The Bengals media universe, both traditional and new outlets, are abuzz with articles aggressively questioning the competence of the medical/training personnel of the Bengals in light of two recent embarrassing incidents. Both the above articles cover all the points worth touching upon and I highly recommend reading both as well as following the links in the Cincy Jungle post.
I will only add a few comments in addition to what has already been said.
First, though this issue is currently grabbing all the headlines, it's been a problem for awhile. When we launched before the 2008 season, in fact, it was our 3rd demand on the original manifesto which you can see on the left side of this page. The Cincy Jungle post links to an informal survey done in 2000 by the NFLPA asking players to rate their own medical staffs. Plenty of teams had 100% of their players rank the medical staff as good or better. The Bengals? Only 19%. The next worst after them? Arizona at 50%. Are you fucking kidding me?
Now, the article points out losing teams tended to rank lower, so consistent losing and the negativity associated with that affects the results. And no one team in any pro sport could boast of more losing than the Bengals as of 2000. But 19%?! Way too much of an outlier to be dismissed. Remember, this was 10 years ago. It's been an issue for AWHILE.
Second, while all of us in the media universe clearly know jackshit about medicine and how a medical/training staff really functions on a pro football team, in this case we don't need to because the outcomes overwhelmingly indicate shittiness. In this year's Football Outsiders Almanac, in their new injury section at the end by their injury expert Will Carroll, the Bengals rank 2nd to last in the NFL in staying on the field over the last three years. Behind only the sorry ass Rams. They specifically note that:
"Cincinnati doesn't invest in the infrastructure to be a healthy team"
Football Outsiders estimates that as much as 25% of team variability in wins year to year is due to injuries. They go so far to say that if you could choose between having a healthy roster of 53 or choosing any one player in the entire NFL to join your team, you'd rather have a healthy roster (I think a team like San Fran, for example, might ask to have Drew Brees for a year though).
But what about that infrastructure FO talks about? For example, Angelo Colosimo, the guy Doc called up for comment and who functions as the Bengals "team" physician, is really an employee of the University of the Cincinnati. He is not exclusively the Bengals doctor. He's also the Bearcats doctor for their sports teams, for example. In fact, he can kind of be anyone's doctor. I once went to him when I ripped my quad apart playing football. He was great...at least as far as I could tell. His credentials certainly are first rate (NYU & Duke).
Anyway, I see no reason why Angelo should be worse than most team doctors. But on paper you could make a case that perhaps he spreads himself too thin with other responsibilities to handle the demands of a pro team. Operationally, the Baltimore Ravens basically lead the NFL in everything. They're a rival in our own division, so I like to benchmark the Bengals against them. We have 3 listed medical/training people and they have 5. Notice how the Ravens have their own section for medical staff while we bury our guys within a broader "Football Staff" section. Maybe that has something to do with it. Neither team appears to staff an actual doctor though.
Look, I do not know truly know how the Bengals differ from other teams, I just know they get poor outcomes and it fucks us. My best guesses for why they suck are:
Chief physicianTheir primary doctors have too many other responsibilities, need someone more dedicated
- Too few training staff working with too small a budget to give the care they need
- (talking out my ass here) I believe the NFL requires teams to pay for 2nd opinions on injuries and surgeries done not by team-related practicioners...I would speculate, and I emphasize speculate, that perhaps when it comes to allowing and paying for the second opinions and other procedures, the Bengals make it much more of a hassle than other teams
Until something changes though, expect Dr Nick's image to pop up again and again on WDR.
UPDATE: commenter John M points out Rob Heidt also gets credit as team doctor. His link seems legit and Heidt got an award as outstanding team physician. Heidt also does not exist on bengals.com, like Colomsimo. This proves two things 1) I have no idea what I'm talking about and 2) there appears to be no exclusivity when it comes to "team" doctors as far as I can tell