The news last week that Jahvid Best was released by the Detroit Lions was fairly disturbing. Anybody who saw him play in college knew why he came into the NFL with such a bright future – and why that future completely depended on whether he could recover from the concussions that riddled his career.
The concussion issue ended up overshadowing everything else he did since the Lions drafted him in the first round of the 2010 draft. But it’s understandable – he suffered one in the 2011 preseason, his second season, then another in October, did not play again that season and sat out all of 2012.
Best was one of the most explosive, dangerous, versatile, thrilling players in the college game at Cal – but it’s almost impossible to think of his college career without thinking of a pair of plays.
The one that has come to define his football life (the video at the top of the page) happened in his junior year of 2009, his last at Cal, against Oregon State. If you’ve seen it before, you’ll instantly recognize it. If you’ve never seen it, it’s very difficult to watch.
The other was his sophomore year, at Maryland, just when he was making a name for himself. He still made a name for himself, but this one play – while never defined publicly as a concussion – looks even worse in hindsight than it did at the time, which is saying a lot. And for what it’s worth, both hits were totally clean, legal, fundamentally sound plays.
In addition, Best returned to the Maryland game. Five years later, that’s not only unimaginable, it’s borderline irresponsible on the team’s part.
There has been no word so far on whether he will play again in the NFL. Based on his history, the decision shouldn’t even be left up to him.