Baldwin grad Pinkston out for rest of NFL season, but glad he's alive
When a medical situation forces a football player to the sidelines for the remainder of a season, “excited” usually isn't a word he uses to describe the situation.
But Jason Pinkston — a Baldwin High school graduate and Cleveland Browns offensive lineman — used that word after finding out last Thursday that he would miss the rest of this season with blood clots in his lungs.
“I'm really excited they found it,” Pinkston said on Monday, still undergoing treatments in the Cleveland Clinic. “The doctors said if I played in a game, there was a good possibility I could have died.”
A former gridiron standout at Baldwin and the University of Pittsburgh, the 6-foot-4, 305-pound Pinkston is in his second season with the Browns and had been the team's starting left guard.
Pinkston left the Browns' game against the Cincinnati Bengals on Oct. 14 because he “didn't feel well.”
“I was originally told I had bronchitis. I was pretty sick and wasn't getting better, and they thought I might have pneumonia,” he said.
That led to Thursday, when Pinkston was rushed to the Cleveland Clinic emergency room.
“They took me to the hospital Thursday for X-rays, and I happened to get a CT scan,” he said. “That's when they discovered I had blood clots in my lungs.”
Doctors are not sure of the cause of the clots and are continuing to perform tests, explained Pinkston. Also referred to as pulmonary embolisms, blood clots in the lungs can be life-threatening.
Pinkston explained that he currently is on medication and will be for at least six months. The condition means absolutely no football, as a blow do the chest could dislodge a clot.
Additionally, the blood-thinning medication he is taking to treat the clots makes contact sports extra hazardous.
Pinkston is confident he will recover and reclaim his starting spot next year.
For the remainder of this season, however, he'll focus on being a coach of sorts for his Browns teammates.
“I'll help out the rest of the guys as much as I can,” he said.
Pinkston had been enjoying substantial NFL success. The former Fighting Highlander was drafted in the fifth round in last year's NFL draft and immediately grabbed a prominent role, starting all 16 games as a rookie last season.
His current condition certainly is a blow, but overcoming adversity is nothing new to the local product.
While at Pitt, Pinkston missed virtually the entire 2007 season with a shoulder injury. He then endured the loss of his mother before the 2008 season.
During his hospital stay he's received an outpouring of support from friends, family, teammates and Browns front office personnel.
“I appreciate all of the support,” he said. “I'm disappointed that I won't be playing football for a while, but that's just a bump in the road.
“I'm happy to be alive.”
Brian Knavish is a freelance writer.