A couple weeks ago, the Steelers' Hines Ward went on record to the good people at NBC Sports, criticizing his quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for sitting out the upcoming game against the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday Night Football, as he was not cleared by doctors after suffering a concussion the week before.
Ward suggested that Roethlisberger could have lied to the independent medical staff. Roethlisberger sat out, per the doctors' orders. And Pittsburgh lost that Sunday night game, which many were calling a must-win. Ward later apologized, and the entire fiasco had a minimal effect, other than illustrating the state of the NFL today, as opposed to, say, 1984, when simple athletic tape was held in the highest medical esteem as a sort of elixir.
But don't expect any similar peer pressure for DeMarcus Ware as Dallas gears up for what many are calling a 'must-win' against the unblemished Saints in Louisiana.
Ware has said, since suffering a scary but ultimately minor neck injury, that he will rely on doctors' orders in making a return. Of course, the linebacker has been more than a little vocal in saying he wants to play; but he wants also to make sure he won't suffer any lasting afflictions for his trouble.
Judging by the comments of Ware's friend and teammate Marcus Spears, the Cowboys are A-okay with that.
"I knew he was fine that night, but it was a scary moment," said Spears, of Ware's injury. "He'll have to make that decision with the trainers and the coaches, I'm out of that mix...I can't do that because I can't determine...I think every guy in this locker room has played through something that was worse than probably you guys (the media) knew about and was able to go out and compete.
"If it was me, If I was in D-Ware's situation, if it's something that a normal hit would take me out, then I probably wouldn't go...If it's something that's going to affect him long-term, then he probably doesn't need to play."