The Saints fired a pair of team orthopedists, Deryk Jones and Misty Suri, after they misdiagnosed Delvin Breaux’s fibula fracture as a contusion. The misdiagnosis lead to Breaux sitting out of practice the past two weeks instead of immediately getting the surgery his leg required. Two weeks of a four to six week recovery are missing because of medical incompetence.
At first, the Saints were upset with Breaux’s lingering injury and even discussed trading or releasing him due to his inability to stay healthy over the past year. Finally, the Saints seem to have come to the realization that it wasn’t their player’s fault for his slow recovery. A competent doctor would have diagnosed the fracture initially and saved time and possible worsening of the injury by sending Breaux straight to the operating room.
At last, I don’t feel like I’m taking crazy pills anymore! I’ve been calling for the Saints team doctors’ heads for at least two seasons now. I even wrote an article highlighting their general incompetence over a month ago. Maybe Sean Payton read my article, or more likely, he stopped being completely naive, and saw the evidence right in front of his face.
Mike Triplett reported that the Saints’ frustrations with the medical staff had been growing for some time. This gross incompetence has been going on for years. And over that time, Payton has listened to team doctors at the expense of his players. The players know their jobs are fragile and availability is key to keeping their employment. Players are always going to play if they get a full go from team docs. Their job security depends on it.
Payton released cornerback Keenan Lewis after taking too long to come back, and the message he sent to his players was “make yourself available or there’s the door.” I wouldn’t be surprised if dozens of Saints players over the past few seasons have played when they shouldn’t have. I wouldn’t be surprised if dozens of players have had harder times returning to the field because they weren’t properly diagnosed in the first place.
And more from Keenan Lewis. Wouldn't expect him to be the only one to say something. pic.twitter.com/ApOeNeobv2— John Hendrix (@JohnJHendrix) August 16, 2017
Remember running back Khiry Robinson? He partially broke a bone in his forearm, probably his ulna, and the Saints doctors told him a splint would be fine to stabilize the injury so he could keep playing. The initial break probably just needed a cast and 3-5 weeks to heal.
Because Saints players have grown accustomed to seeking second opinions outside of Ochsner, a separate specialist told Robinson that if he caught a ball with his forearm pronated (think back-handed catch), the bone would completely fracture. Robinson was probably scared Payton would cut his ass if he wasn’t on the field so he trusted the Saints docs over the other specialist.
On his first play, Robinson caught the ball with his forearm pronated. Snap. Complete fracture. Surgery required. Another one bites the dust because the onus should not be placed on the players whether or not they can play. An athlete and a competitor is always going to say they can go. It’s up to the doctors to protect the athletes from themselves, because the coaches sure as hell aren’t going to do it.
I won a Gold Medal at the Tae Kwon Do Junior Olympics with a concussion. I’m sure of it. My opponent kicked me in the face, almost knocking me out, and I staggered around the ring trying not to get killed as I saw stars throughout my field of vision.
Luckily my nose started to bleed so the ref stopped the fight. The doctor shoved a tampon up my nose and asked me “if I could go.” I whispered “yes” and held a thumbs up out for my parents in the stands so they would know I was ok.
I lived. I scored a head shot with a spin kick on my opponent to take the lead and danced a la Muhammed Ali around the ring until the final bell rung. It’s a cool story and I defended my title from the previous year, but should I have finished that fight? I wasn’t given a concussion test, or asked any questions other than “can you go?” The onus should not have been put on me.
That’s exactly why it’s imperative to have a competent medical staff who is capable of keeping the athletes safe. If the players can’t trust their medical staff in a 100% chance of injury sport, their trust in the franchise as a whole will eventually erode.
Payton himself seems to finally understand this and even spoke to the team directly on Tuesday to discuss the latest medical mishaps on Airline Drive. Punter and Saints union rep Thomas Morstead relayed Payton’s message.
"Coach talked to the team last night, and we were kind of asked to keep that conversation private, but what I will say is that I thought he did a great job of basically promising the team that they're gonna have people that are here in every area of the building -- including the medical staff -- that players feel like have their best interests at heart and are competent. He made that promise to the team. And so I think that message was very well received, and that's all any of us can ask for, really, as players.”
The Saints are currently relying on the Chargers team orthopedists and are simultaneously conducting a search for a short and long term solution to their orthopedist staff. Let’s hope Payton keeps his promise and brings only the best, brightest, and most competent aboard.
I still think this is just the start of more sweeping changes. Injury diagnosis and treatment were obviously not up to par. But one look at head strength and conditioning trainer Dan “Donut” Dalrymple tells me the Saints approach to conditioning and injury prevention is just as incompetent and quite frankly dangerous for the players.
Of course, if you still don’t buy into this whole thing, then check out what Keenan Lewis said on local ESPN Radio.