The Needle and the Damage Done

Before I start, I'm going to make two assumptions. We all know that assumptions make an... you know the rest. We are dealing with imperfect knowledge. Cannot be helped, I doubt we will hear much more than we've already heard at this point.

During the game broadcast, Coach Pinkel revealed James Franklin decided not to take a shot. After the game, he also said (bolded for emphasis), "It was just too painful for him, and he didn't want to play. (I) was hoping James could play, but he didn't feel like he could do it." Let's assume this is frustration leaking out.

I also want to assume that this Tigerboard post is largely true (yeah I know, TB). The most interesting is this about corticosteroid (cortisone) injections:

It takes 24-72 hours for the full effect of the corticosteroid. Once in the joint space, they begin to immediately reduce the swelling, inflammation, and diminish any further release of inflammatory cytokines, thus speeding the healing. That is, they turn off the inflammation cycle, some of which which abnormally prolonging the cycle of pain, suffering. The primary problem with these injections is that they radically weaken the tendon and its insertion into the humerus for the next 24-72 hours. Therefore, modest trauma can induce a complete tear of the tendon away from the bone, not acceptable in this situation.

So if he was offered a cortisone injection on Saturday in order to play, Franklin absolutely made the right decision from a medical standpoint. Don't even need to get to personal convictions. The trainer/doctor shouldn't be allowed to continue to treat athletes if this is their way of practicing medicine.

However, if he was offered this course of treatment earlier in the week and could recover in time avoid this major downside, things get a lot murkier.

One can say Franklin has his personal convictions, and the discussion stops right there if you are going to respect his convictions. If all we are discussing are painkiller medications, I can and do respect that.

On the other hand, I find it strange one could accept shoulder surgery as a prudent course of action, but reject another medical procedure that potentially allows for faster healing as well.

I'm not even going to touch the "toughness" issue. I don't know if T.J. Moe was trying to send a message with his overpraise of Berk's toughness after the game. The team can handle that internally. As Coach Pinkel said, Franklin proved his toughness last year plenty. If Franklin says he can't go, I believe him.

I do believe we saw Coach Pinkel frustrated that Franklin couldn't play, and the reason was (if the assumptions above are correct) Franklin may not have gotten all the medical treatment available to be ready to play Saturday. That is my opinion, we may never know the entire story.

No matter what, I hope James Franklin starts this week and leads the Tigers to a win on the road, and leaves this story far behind. He's a good player, a great person, and I'm proud he represents my alma mater.

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