Murky men­tal fu­ture wor­ries Ryp­ien

Ex-red­skins quar­ter­back es­ti­mates four or five con­cus­sions in 11-year ca­reer

The Washington Times Daily - - Weather - BY NATHAN FENNO

Three weeks ago, Mark Ryp­ien ad­mit­ted some­thing was wrong.

At a fundrais­ing din­ner for his char­i­ta­ble foun­da­tion, Ryp­ien’s col­lege room­mate from Washington State Univer­sity, John Mar­shall, re­called when Ryp­ien sum­moned a mede­vac he­li­copter af­ter an­other ex-room­mate, Jeff Loomis, suf­fered a mi­nor stroke. The call saved Loomis’ life.

Ryp­ien had no mem­ory of the in­ci­dent.

The daily mem­ory lapses Ryp­ien, 49, at­trib­uted to ad­vanc­ing age sud­denly looked dif­fer­ent. So did the four or five con­cus­sions the ex-washington Red­skins quar­ter­back was di­ag­nosed with dur­ing his 11-year NFL ca­reer.

That’s how Ryp­ien be­came the lead plain­tiff in a law­suit filed Fri­day by 126 ex-play­ers against the NFL over head in­juries.

“It got to a point where it made me con­cerned, and now I’m think­ing, ‘Gosh, what do the next 10 years look like?’ “Ryp­ien said in a phone in­ter­view Wed­nes­day. “Then you be­come a lit­tle bit scared.”

In ad­di­tion to the four or five con­cus­sions he was di­ag­nosed with dur­ing his ca­reer, Ryp­ien es­ti­mated 15 to 20 other times he was “not in my right state” af­ter hits.

Sim­ple tasks, like car­ry­ing on con­ver­sa­tions with fam­ily mem­bers, slowly be­came more dif­fi­cult.

“They’re look­ing out of the corner of their eye like, ‘You didn’t re­mem­ber what you just got done say­ing?’ “Ryp­ien said. “You’re for­get­ting things from yes­ter­day and from your past.”

Even study­ing foot­ball when he vol­un­teers with Sha­dle Park High’s team in Spokane, Wash., isn’t the same for the man who was Su­per Bowl XXVI’S most valu­able player. The changes alarmed him.

the long term.”

Shana­han praised Grif­fin’s and Luck’s men­tal makeup and phys­i­cal abil­i­ties af­ter meet­ing with them last week dur­ing their re­spec­tive on-cam­pus pro days. He would not say whether he val­ues one over the other or who he ex­pects the In­di­anapo­lis Colts to draft first.

“When you make a move to the sec­ond pick of the draft, you’ve got to feel very com­fort­able with both guys,” he said. “I’ve heard a lot of dif­fer­ent things. What­ever hap­pens, hap­pens, but you’ve got to feel great about both.”

The Rams asked the Red­skins and other teams to make their best of­fer for the No. 2 over­all pick, Shana­han said. Cleve­land me­dia have re­ported the Red­skins out­bid the Browns.

Af­ter watch­ing video of ev­ery col­le­giate play Luck and Grif­fin have par­tic­i­pated in, Shana­han de­cided ac­quir­ing ei­ther of them was worth the cost.

“To get that fran­chise quar­ter­back is pretty tough,” he said. “They just don’t fall off the trees. If you can get a guy that you feel is a fran­chise quar­ter­back, then you’ve got to make de­ci­sions in the best in­ter­est of your or­ga­ni­za­tion, and we felt it was.”

Shana­han wanted more than just one rookie, though. He con­firmed a Sports Il­lus­trated re­port that he and Kyle Shana­han, the Red­skins’ of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor and his son, flew to Den­ver af­ter the trade and met with Man­ning at the fam­ily’s ex­pan­sive home there.

They watched film for five hours and dis­cussed per­son­nel, Mike Shana­han said. He be­lieves they were le­git­i­mate con­tenders for Man­ning’s ser­vices be­cause their meet­ing was so long. Man­ning ul­ti­mately signed with the Den­ver Bron­cos last week.

“I can say that we had a great con­ver­sa­tion,” Shana­han said. “I know he gave it a lot of thought.”

Now Shana­han’s fo­cus is to sur­round the rookie quar­ter­back with qual­ity play­ers. He expressed mea­sured ex­pec­ta­tions for what a rookie might ac­com­plish in his first sea­son, but he ex­pects great­ness over the long term.

“If you want to win the Su­per Bowl, you’ve got to have that guy that gives you a chance to win year in and year out,” he said. “You’ve got to give them the right sup­port­ing cast . . . but once you have that guy, it picks up ev­ery­body on your foot­ball team.”


Mike Shana­han will coach a touted rookie quar­ter­back — most likely Heis­man Tro­phy win­ner Robert Grif­fin III — as a re­sult of the Red­skins trad­ing up with St. Louis for the sec­ond over­all pick.

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