Alex Smith isn't going to start for the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday because he has a lacerated spleen. Smith suffered the injury during last Sunday's game against against the Steelers, but he didn't find out what had happened to him until yesterday.
At a press conference today, Smith explained that he felt some abdominal discomfort after the Steelers game, but didn't think anything was seriously wrong with him. He went on to work out on Monday and participate in a full practice on Tuesday, and just thought that he was suffering from a stomach bug or something:
I practiced on Tuesday, I worked out on Monday, I ran. It certainly wasn't something that was prohibiting me athletically. I didn't feel like it was muscular. I just kind of had this discomfort. Nausea kind of coming and going. I knew a bug was going around. I thought maybe it was that. Like I said, I practiced both days, I felt great athletically running around, throwing. Kind of just had this constant deal going on and thankfully Doc kind of urged me to get the test.
It doesn't seem like the Chiefs' medical staff fucked up by not catching the injury sooner, and Smith's symptoms do sound pretty mild, but this is still kind of terrifying! If they hadn't caught it and Smith went on to play on Sunday, he could have very easily ruptured his spleen, which would have led to a a repeat of the very scary situation Chris Simms ended up in eight years ago.
In the end, this is just yet another reminder that football can really mess you up, man. It's a sport in which you can lacerate an internal organ in the middle of a game and not even notice; in which players are so used to being in pain and discomfort that it can take them the better part of a week to realize that something is wrong with their spleen; and in which a burst spleen is, really, not really among the worst outcomes of a given play.