Are the Denver Broncos not worried about John Brown’s sickle cell trait? Is Brown himself not worried about it?
The idea of the Denver Broncos adding the speedy John Brown makes a lot of sense on paper, but Brown carries the sickle cell trait, which is a notoriously bad deal for players in the Mile High Denver air.
We wrote on Monday about the fact that Brown’s sickle cell trait may take him off the board of potential free agents in a couple of weeks, but according to Mike Klis, that is apparently not the case.
Here’s an important piece of Klis’ report in regards to Brown and the Broncos’ interest.
"“From what I’ve been told, the Broncos are not scared off by John Brown’s sickle cell trait, and a source close to Brown says the receiver is not afraid of Denver’s mile-high altitude as a possible home — provided the team expresses interest.”"
This is a huge development.
This seems to indicate that there is already mutual interest between the Broncos and Brown if both parties have considered the risk of him not only playing in Denver but making his home there.
I’m not so sure I share that comfort, but it’s not my body and it’s not my money, either.
If Brown feels like his health is under control and the Broncos’ medical staff approves this move, perhaps there’s nothing to worry about.
Considering some of the stories players have told in the past, like Ryan Clark’s story about how he was in so much pain he called his wife and told her he thought he was not going to make it, this is a move that would scare me quite a bit.
Clark’s case is an extreme one, however. Atlanta Falcons running back Tevin Coleman played in Denver in 2016, touching the ball 10 times and racking up 163 total yards from scrimmage and scoring a touchdown in a Broncos loss.
This is what one online medical article has to say about the sickle cell trait for athletes in high altitude situations:
"“Due to the lack of oxygen in high altitudes, athletes with sickle cell trait take a higher risk when participating in this environment. Splenic infarction can occur in athletes with sickle cell trait, particularly at high altitudes. Splenic infarction is tissue death in the spleen caused by a lack of oxygen to this vital organ. Vigorous exercise at altitudes higher than 5,000 feet may increase risk. Splenic infarction causes sudden and sometimes severe pain in the left side of the chest and abdomen. You may experience nausea and vomiting as well. You should consult a doctor immediately if signs and symptoms occur as well as for return to play protocol. Any time you are participating in activity at high altitudes, the risk of complications is increased.”"
For Brown to play in Denver, he would need constant monitoring, especially if he is on the field for any great length of time.
The previously cited article talks about management of sickle cell trait for athletes and says that athletes with this condition need to limit ‘all-out’ exertion to 2-3 minutes.
The NFL is not necessarily a boxing match but these guys are sprinting around the field and exerting a lot of energy sometimes over the course of a six minute drive or longer. Would Brown’s condition limit his availability in games?
What happens when that limited availability costs the Broncos in the game of ‘inches’?
There are a number of receivers on the market who could help Denver besides Brown, but it sounds like from Klis’ report and everything that’s currently out there that the two sides are not all that concerned about this condition which is more than a bit concerning to me.
If Denver signs Brown, they will be taking perhaps one of the most unnecessary risks to upgrade the team in ways they could do through a number of other players on the free agent market.