Never has our staff at The Turf been so well-positioned to comment on a story regarding an NFL injury. When we found out about Joe Burrow‘s mandated vocal rest following a throat injury in Week 5. For Bengals fans, the relief of Burrow having an upper-body injury is immense, but a vocal injury can be tough. So we’ve taken it upon ourselves to give some helpful tips to Cincinnati’s quarterback as he starts his journey back towards full vocal health.
Glycerin is Your Friend
I once had an ENT (Industry slang for an Ear, Nose, and Throat doctor) tell me to suck on some Swedish Fish in order to help my vocal cords get through a particularly rough weekend. While fighting the urge to tell this doctor to suck on something else, I asked them “why?” The answer was simple: glycerin. This ENT told me that glycerin has the same pH range as your saliva, therefore it can help keep your throat from drying out. I took this advice with a grain of salt, but it actually worked. I spent two years on tour with the Broadway musical Rock of Ages, with a Swedish fish tucked in my cheek. That’s a commitment to the craft and commitment to the bit.
Honey Loquat Syrup
If Swedish Fish aren’t your game, then another topical cure might be more your style. Nin Jiom Honey and Loquat Sore Throat Syrup was a game-changer for me. Instead of keeping something in your mouth while singing, which is an obvious choking hazard, a spoonful of this right before game time will help provide relief, and keep you in the game longer. I once had a fellow actor refer to it as “smelling salts for your voice”, as in it wakes up a part of you that you didn’t know existed, and lets you finish the show.
If putting something in your mouth doesn’t sound great, why not put something on your face. A PureMist personal steamer is your best option, in my opinion, as you can take it anywhere. On the team bus? You can steam there. On the sidelines? You can steam there. In a post-game press conference? You can absolutely steam there and recover from the harsh and violent signal calling of the day. Before the pandemic, I would steam on the subway ride home. Why? Because I was a psycho, and I was serious about my vocal health.
Get a Whiteboard
The most annoying thing about vocal rest is that it takes an average of 45 minutes for the people around you to understand the concept. “Oh, you’re on vocal rest? So that means you can’t talk? What happened?” I don’t know, Susan, but I can’t really tell you right now, because that would mean talking to you. This is where the whiteboard comes in. Keep a few common phrases like “Yes”, “No”, and “I’m on vocal rest” tucked somewhere in the corners of the board, so you can easily point to them. Otherwise, grab your pen and write out your thoughts and feelings.
This works great in two ways. Firstly, you can freely communicate with others around you, without any kind of issue. Secondly, and most importantly, people will see how much effort it takes for you to write everything and will eventually feel bad and leave you alone. That’s the best part of this, that it’s a very quick way to get people to stop bothering you.
Hire a Vocal Coach
Okay, so this one is both a short-term and a long-term play, Joe. However, I think it would be beneficial. When you’re calling plays at the line, you’re really grinding out your signals. I understand that quarterbacks work on their cadences to the point of insanity, but it sounds like you’re pressing down on your cords, and that can lead to some serious vocal damage. This is why you need a vocal coach, or if things get worse a Speech Therapist. Now, I know the word therapist may scare you, but trust me, they can save your career in two short appointments.
Some simple voice and speech work could be the answer to all your problems, Mr. Burrow. If you can leave to place your cadence in your “mask” (that’s a term your vocal coach will teach you), you’ll save yourself from sounding like Tom Waits in the future. You can find a pretty good one at CCM, trust me. They have the resume and then some to help with your problem.
Hopefully, that helps you out of your current predicament. And remember, there is no shame in calling out due to vocal fatigue or vocal damage. No one’s going to miss you at a matinee, but Cincinnati will miss you if you blow your voice by coming back too early. Plus, Mr. Burrows, you play for the Bengals. It’s all about the long game, right?
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