In the winter, Brodney Pool feared his football days were done.
The veteran safety had been diagnosed with multiple concussions, finishing last season with the Cleveland Browns on injured reserve with what might have been his fourth or fifth or however many.
The NFL's crackdown on head injuries worried Pool.
"The Browns doctors were telling me 'I don't know if you're going to be cleared to play again,' " Pool said.
Turns out, Pool was good to go -- right to the New York Jets and the NFL's top-rated defense.
I wrote Thursday about Pool getting lost among the Jets' splashy offseason acquisitions. Jets head coach Rex Ryan has had to force Pool's name into the conversation when reporters ask about the arrivals of pass-rusher Jason Taylor and cornerback Antonio Cromarite or offensive weapons LaDainian Tomlinson and Santonio Holmes.
"I don't care that people are forgetting I'm on the team," Pool told me over the phone. "I'm just going to go out there and show them what I can do. I know I'm a good player, and they brought me in for a reason. As long as you got the head coach saying your name, that's a good thing."
Ryan was able to ask his twin brother, Browns defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, for a scouting report on Pool. The intel was intriguing enough to explore Pool's concussion problems.
The Jets were thrilled to learn Pool's injury history wasn't as bad as initially believed.
When Pool hit free agency, the Jets medical staff checked him out and found almost all of his so-called concussions were misdiagnosed migraine headaches, which he'd suffered since high school. A followup visit with independent sports concussion specialists in Pittsburgh confirmed the Jets' opinion that hard hits or dehydration would trigger migraines that were misinterpreted.
"I'm blessed to be a Jet because a few months ago I didn't know if I still was going to be playing football," Pool said.
Pool claims his revised medical report now has him down for one concussion suffered as a rookie in 2005. He said he manages the migraines with high dosages of vitamin B, changes to his diet and a sleep schedule.
He's confident his headache issues are behind him. He was enjoying the best season of his career in 2009, snagging four interceptions in 11 games before missing the final five. He said he was ready to return a week after the Browns placed him on IR, but once a player is sent there, his season is over.
Pool will fill Kerry Rhodes' old spot in the Jets' impressive secondary. Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine recently told ESPNNewYork.com's Rich Cimini that "Brodney will play the run better. I think he's a better tackler. I think he'll stick his face in there more than Kerry." Eric Smith also will see a healthy amount of snaps, with Jim Leonhard returning as the other starting safety.
"I have an important role to play, and I'm going to be ready for it," Pool said. "I have a lot of experience and have played in a lot of different kinds of defenses. I've made plays, but a lot of times it went unnoticed because my team wasn't winning and they would be swept under the rug.
"I'm just the kind of guy where I'm going to give it my all on every play and be the best team player I can be."