If Jahvid Best isn't ready to resume his playing career one full year after his most recent concussion, will he ever? That's a fair question to ask after the Detroit Lions confirmed in a statement that he "will not be permitted return to play at this time" after a latest round of post-concussion testing.
Best hasn't played or engaged in football contact since Oct. 16, 2011. The Lions were hoping he would be cleared Monday and activated from the physically unable to perform (PUP) list, but general manager Martin Mayhew said: "Throughout this entire process we always have placed the highest priority on what is best for Jahvid from a health and safety standpoint."
I don't have the details many of you are looking for. Best said recently that he has been symptom-free for months. So why hasn't he been cleared? I don't know. The Lions' statement is carefully worded, and it doesn't say who made the ultimate decision that he "will not be permitted to play at this time." Was it doctors? Best and/or his family? The Lions? The statement says only that the determination came after "today's consultation with medical experts, including representatives from [the Lions'] medical and training staffs," and there is really no sense in speculating beyond that.
What we can say is that it's highly unlikely Best will play for the Lions this season. The NFL allows for a three-week window, beginning Monday, for players to be activated from the PUP list. If the window closes without activation, the player is ineligible for the remainder of the season.
The reasons are unknown, but the bottom line is Best hasn't progressed enough over the past 12 months to resume his career. How likely is it that something could change over the next three weeks? Best said last week he went three months between his two most recent tests. I wonder if he'll even be tested again before the PUP window closes.
In his statement, Mayhew said the team will continue working with Best "with the hope that he ultimately will be cleared to return to the playing field." I have to assume that won't come before 2013 -- if ever. At that point, he would be hoping to play after a nearly two-year absence. I'm not sure I can envision that in today's era of concussion awareness. Can you?