When Jahvid Best has been on the field for the Detroit Lions, he has been a difference-maker. Unfortunately, getting back on the field has become his biggest obstacle. His history of concussions isn’t allowing it to happen. Best hasn’t played a down since November of 2011, when he suffered his most recent concussion. His teammates have told him to retire and neurologists won’t clear him to return to football. He continues to be in a holding pattern. This offseason, Detroit even signed Reggie Bush, a player that possesses similar gifts as Best, as insurance in case the former first round pick can’t put a Lions uniform on ever again. It’s a sad reality right now for the former Cal running back. Best is just 24 years old, he’s one of the most explosive players in the game, he’s in great shape and the Lions offense hasn’t looked complete since he went down last November. But unfortunately for him, after about a year of being symptom-free, he still can’t find a neurologist that will clear him for full contact practices and a return to the NFL doesn’t look likely.
Jahvid Best joined WNST in Baltimore on Catch the Buzz to talk about his future, how tough it was for him to deal with high expectations early in his career, on the most important thing for him to do every day as he attempts to make a return, on the NFL’s mission of trying to protect players from head injuries and where his return stands now.
On his future still being in the balance:
“Yes, it’s still in the balance but I have a positive outlook on things. I’m hoping for the best. I will be ready if I get the chance.”
How tough it was for him to deal with high expectations early in his NFL career:
“It was tough at first. There was a lot of weight on my shoulders my rookie year but I just kind of took it one step at a time and tried to take pressure off myself. Relax, go out there and just play. I know I’m a good player, I know I can be a great player and so that should take care of itself. I just have to focus on preparing myself week in and week out and everything else will take care of itself.”
On the most important thing for him to do every day as he attempts this return:
“I think it’s a little bit of everything, but I think the biggest part is your mental and emotional side. You always have to have a positive outlook on things. You can’t be negative. If you think negatively then it will turn into reality. Gotta have a positive outlook and just take it one day at a time. Just keep focusing on getting better and things will take care of themselves. Just gotta keep looking at the big picture.”
Whether he can go back to the moment at Cal and identify that as his first concussion:
“I can definitely go back and say that was my first concussion. You take some shots every now and then but when you get a concussion, you know it’s a concussion. You can get hit really hard but when you get a concussion, there is no other feeling like it. You know when you get a concussion. It’s hard to deny that.”
On trying to protect guys from head injuries:
“No, you can’t. That’s the way the sport was created. You can’t stop it from happening. Technique lessens the chances of having a concussion but I’ve been playing football since my freshman year of high school and I’ve had three concussions. That’s a lot of football and that’s a lot of hits and there are only three. It does happen often but it doesn’t happen a lot.”
Where he is right now in terms of his return:
“The biggest thing for me is, I’m 24 years old. I’m in the best physical condition that I have ever been in my life. I can’t not try. I’m definitely going to keep myself in perfect shape and keep trying to get back on the field. When I get my chance I will be ready.”