Nick Mangold plans to play Sunday despite scary neck injury

ByRich Cimini ESPN logo
Monday, November 2, 2015

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Four days after suffering a frightening neck injury that shook him and his family, New York Jets center Nick Mangold said his intention is to play Sunday against the Oakland Raiders.

"If things happen and I can't play, I'll deal with that at that time," Mangold said Thursday, speaking to reporters for the first time since getting hurt. "Right now, I'm planning on playing. I'm studying and preparing for a very difficult Oakland front."

Mangold was motionless, flat on his stomach, for about a minute after getting sideswiped by New England Patriots linebacker Jamie Collins in the final minute of the game. He walked off the field, but was carted to the locker room. A battery of tests came back negative.

Nevertheless, Mangold admitted he was concerned at the time of the injury. His nature is to downplay injuries -- he has missed only three games in nine-plus seasons -- but it's clear this made an impact on him.

"Just a scary time, but I won't let you get into the dark recesses of my mind," he said, managing a small smile.

Mangold, 31, who sidestepped a question about whether he feared paralysis, said he'd never felt that way on a football field.

"That's why it was as difficult as it was for me," he said. "It was a new phenomenon. I had to come to grips with that."

Mangold was taken for tests when the team returned home from Foxborough, Massachusetts -- an MRI, a CT scan and an X-ray. He wanted answers -- and quickly, since, he said, he and his family were "concerned. We were fortunate to get back and get those tests done early so we could alleviate any major concerns."

The six-time Pro Bowl center hasn't practiced this week, but he can play a game without practicing. He's done it before. If he can't play, he'd be replaced by Dakota Dozier or Wesley Johnson, neither of whom has started an NFL game. Dozier has played only four offensive snaps, Johnson none.

Despite his initial worries about the injury, Mangold claimed he won't change his mindset when it comes to playing hurt.

"I feel like, unless I'm lying there bleeding out, I'll be able to play at any point in time," he said. "Without that mentality, I don't think I'd be where I am today."

Coach Todd Bowles has remained noncommittal regarding Mangold's status. In the end, he'll rely heavily on the player's opinion.

"Nick is an honest guy, we trust everything he says," Bowles said. "If he says [he can play], we'll try to give him some snap drills to make sure he's telling the truth."