Carroll: Simms, Smith and Stallworth updates

Can we get over the word "tough" please? All players in the NFL are tough. They're exceptionally talented and abuse their bodies in ways that mere mortals simply cannot. Watch these players the day after a game and you'll understand more when you see a player gnarled and old beyond his age years down the line. Not all players are as lucky as Ron Jaworski, my pal from "The Fantasy Show." He has all his fingers at more or less the right angles they should be. He's got all his marbles despite 32 concussions. There have been studies showing that ex-NFL players are losing years off their lives for fame, fortune and your entertainment. They're playing through injuries that would have you or me crying for Mommy and yet we continue to call them soft, reward them for hiding injuries that in the end only hurt the team and, too often, see players literally dropping dead on our fields. If players are truly role models, then it's time for the NFL to step up and make safety and health more important than toughness.

There are a bunch of injuries this week, so let's get to it:

Chris Simms is alive. That's the good news. The amazing part is that we're not talking about the internal bleeding, the emergency surgery, or what he'll do with the rest of his life. No, we're talking about the chance that he'll come back in 2006. It's possible, though unlikely, that he could return. The recovery period is between two and three months for this procedure, which was done "open" -- with a scalpel, not scopes. Add in any setback and Simms would be done for the season, though it is notable that the Bucs have not yet mentioned IR for their QB. While Simms wasn't an elite fantasy QB and the Bucs are playing more like the old orange-clad Bucs these days, the injury does hurt many who took Simms as a backup, thinking this was his year. We should also note that ruptured spleens don't show symptoms. I know one hockey trainer who had a player rupture his spleen during a game. While he was sore, the player never gave any indication that he was any worse than normal. He left the game, went home and passed out. If the player's roommate hadn't seen him on the floor, he would have bled to death. Trying to place any blame on the Bucs' trainers is as wrong as trying to figure out which hit led to the injury.