Zach Collaros admitted he didn’t feel 100 per cent during the week leading up to the West Division semifinal.
The Saskatchewan Roughriders’ quarterback didn’t say he was suffering from concussion symptoms after he was nailed in a helmet-to-helmet hit by Odell Willis in a game on Oct. 27 versus the B.C. Lions. Yet, Collaros went through the typical concussion testing in the days following that game.
Riders head coach Chris Jones said Collaros passed those concussions tests and was cleared to play in Sunday’s playoff game against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, a game the Riders lost.
Instead, Collaros did not dress for the contest. Brandon Bridge started in his place.
Jones said he didn’t want to risk playing Collaros in Sunday’s game if his quarterback wasn’t feeling completely healthy and that is totally understandable. But you have to wonder how much of a fight Collaros put forth after the decision was made he wouldn’t play. Any athlete with a competitive edge would do almost anything to get on the field, especially for a playoff game.
But what player is 100-per-cent healthy at this point in the season? Various players are nursing bumps and bruises and sore joints, which are even more frustrating to deal with when playing in cold weather.
But a concussion is different than a sprained ankle. And when head injuries and player safety are paramount, you can understand why Jones didn’t want to push Collaros and risk further damage.
And if a player isn’t willing to put his body on the line for his teammates in a playoff game, when would he ignore his health for the sake of competition? Certainly not for a regular-season game.
So, in my opinion, Collaros should retire now.
Yes, he’s still relatively young – he’s 30. But he suffered at least one – probably more – concussions this season and missed five weeks. And this wasn’t the first time he had been sidelined with concussions. He missed three games in 2016 while a member of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, and missed even more time in 2014 with concussion issues.
Due to Collaros’ history with injuries, especially brain injuries, the Riders cannot rely on him in the short term or the long term. He is not the answer to filling the void at the most important position on the team.
Collaros should focus on his health and his life away from football. The Riders can focus on finding a healthy quarterback.