Andy Reid, his medical staff and the Eagles should have seen this day coming a year ago. The team should never have banked on Shawn Andrews this year. Or the next. Or the one after that.
Hoped the big kid would play? Absolutely. Hoped he would regain his Pro Bowl status? Maybe.
But expected him to play after a bout with depression and a chronic back injury that required surgery last season? No way. No how.
According to numerous studies in the medical world, clinical depression and chronic back injuries don’t necessarily occur in isolation of each other. There is a very good chance that the two situations that have removed a dominant lineman from the Eagles line-up are connected and part of a cycle.
In fact, adults who suffer from depression are four times more likely to develop intense pain in their neck or back, according to a study conducted by Dr. Linda Carroll, a professor in the Department of Public Health Sciences at University of Alberta.
Also, Dr. William W. Deardorff reports on a study that found that 39 percent of people with chronic back pain suffered from depression before they felt pain in their lower back. In addition, 14 of 16 recent studies found depression to be a risk factor for developing back pain.
Moreover, Dr. Deardorff cites a study that shows people who suffer from clinical depression prior to back surgery may not recover as quickly as other individuals. Those patients may be unenergetic and unmotivated to work hard while recovering, which can increase healing time.
It’s possible that Andrews never truly healed from his surgery last year due to residual effects of depression, and that he attempted to come back too soon. He could have reinjured his back as a result.
Which came first, depression or the back pain? We’ll never really know since Andrews isn’t talking to the media, and Reid will only say “it was a medical decision” to place his stud offensive lineman on IR this year.
However, depression and pain can both be caused by chemistry in your brain, and the result can be a cycle of one followed closely by the other, according to an internet chat with Brenda Murdough MSN, RN-C, Military/Veterans Initiative Coordinator, American Pain Foundation.
Look depression and back injuries are both serious medical conditions and should not be taken lightly. Does Andrews deserve some of the criticism he has received? Maybe a little, but not much.
Are we all disappointed because we know the asset he would have been to this offensive line, the offense as a whole, the team, and the fans’ dreams of a Super Bowl parade down Broad Street? You betcha!
However, the real fault lies with the Eagles. Medical personnel should have known the possibility existed that Andrews’ back and depression issues were intertwined. Don’t get mad at the Andrews because the Eagles failed to research the facts and see this situation was a possibility.
The Eagles tried to do the right thing by bringing in a circle of support for Shawn when they traded for college roommate Jason Peters and signed his brother Stacey Andrews this offseason. Andrews is talented enough to try to help him in any way possible.
However, in doing so, they may have been placing all their eggs in a basket with basketball-sized holes. The team didn’t have a contingency plan in place. Reid and the Eagles better hope Winston Justice continues to play well, and Stacey Andrews’ knee holds up. Otherwise, Donovan McRib could have a season filled with injuries.
The Eagles should have seen this week’s move of placing Andrews on the IR coming for more than a year. They should have made contingency plans. If the Birds did their homework, then nobody at the NovaCare Complex should be surprised. If not, then they have nobody to blame but themselves.
The fact is, Shawn Andrews could very well have put on an NFL jersey for the last time. And, it’s nothing more than a case of genetics. That’s the real tragedy here.