Justin Pugh didn’t feel like himself following the Giants Week 9 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and originally chalked it up to dehydration. After his headache and fatigue dragged out for a week, team doctors examined the Giants offensive lineman and he was later diagnosed by a specialist with an ocular concussion. Pugh missed the past two games with the brain injury and didn’t want to leave anything to chance with a highly sensitive issue.
“I’m missing three weeks and I was having bad headaches for three weeks,” admitted Pugh. “I was sitting at home doing nothing for three weeks. When you’re talking about your brain and long-term effects from it and we’re seeing now what happens with guys, you have to make sure you take care of your brain. As soon we said concussion, they shut me down, did everything right, so I’m very fortunate. I know a lot of guys who are in the same situation.”
New York’s lineman has battled through his share of nagging setbacks, but sustaining a concussion that sidelined him for three weeks really helped put things in perspective for him.
“Never, never in my life,” said Pugh on whether he’d experienced anything like that before. “I was scared, I’m not going to lie. I was definitely scared by it, it was something that definitely woke me up, and made sure that you have to take care of yourself and make sure you’re doing the proper things right, especially when you go into the protocol to take the baby steps and do things right. Obviously it hurts on Sunday, especially that first one, the first time I had to watch a game on TV and it was no fun.”
Offensive lineman notoriously take a pounding and Pugh couldn't pinpoint exactly when the injury took place, but he knew that his situation was more serious than dehydration when his symptoms lingered for a week.
“It wasn’t a single hit that I can remember,” said Pugh. “I came out the game against Tampa Bay and I really felt like I wanted to collapse after the game. I know a couple of guys came up to me and I just said I didn’t even want to do interviews. I think it could have been partially dehydration, but like I said, after seven days of having the same kind of symptoms, and headaches, and hoping it was dehydration and not a concussion, but it was definitely more than that.”
Luckily for the third year pro, he’s been cleared by the NFL’s concussion protocol and practiced with the team on Thursday. Pugh has tried to remain patient throughout the agonizing process as he consulted with a specialist who insisted that he spend extra time resting to ensure that he’s healed.
“No, that’s the biggest thing with concussions as well,” said Pugh. “I met with a specialist and basically what a concussion is, it’s almost like a sprained ankle. Once you’re fully healed from it, you’re fully healed from it. The issues come when you get a concussion, come back too soon, and then get another concussion. Your brain is trying to heal and once it heals, it’s fine. That’s where a lot guys have issues with now because they would come back too soon and get another hit to the head. Really everyone wants to put a negative connation against a guy who maybe has had several concussions, but once you’re healed you’re 100% fine. It’s almost like a sprained ankle from what I’ve been told, so that’s the biggest thing, taking the proper precautions, and making sure you’re 100% healthy.”