Former All-Pro Tells All About Concussions

football player holding his helmetWhen it comes to helping people who suffer concussions, we focus a lot of our efforts on collegiate athletes in football. We do this because these student-athletes give their bodies to their teams and schools. At the end of it, they don’t have the financial backing to receive treatment for the concussions they’ve sustained.

Collegiate athletes do get full scholarships, but this doesn’t help to cover the cost of medical expenses when the athlete finishes playing. These injuries can worsen, especially if the player doesn’t make it to the National Football League.

However, the tactic of hiding concussions is not a problem in just collegiate sports. These issues run their way up to the professional level. Now more than ever, these tactics are in the spotlight, with many former players coming forward.

The most recent story involves former All-Pro wide receiver Calvin Johnson, formally of the Detroit Lions. While Calvin said he doesn’t regret anything from his playing career, he also states that he recognized that he played for a “backward organization.”

Concussions Throughout Johnson’s Career

Johnson, who retired from the NFL in March of 2016, is now 33 and sat down to provide some insight into the league and how the public doesn’t know about the hidden concussions. In fact, Johnson estimates that he suffered from nine concussions throughout his career.

He suffered nine concussions over a nine-year career in the NFL. Even this number is something Johnson believes is a “super conservative” estimate. Johnson recalls times when he would hit the ground with forceful impact. He saw stars and couldn’t see straight. However, he knew he would keep playing.

Following one of his head injuries, Johnson states that he changed his story because the team pressured him to do so. Instead of disclosing the damage, sitting out in concussion protocol, he returned to the game because his team needed him—and wanted him to lie about the condition.

In 2012, Johnson suffered an injury in a game against the Minnesota Vikings. He went down hard, and in the time after the game, he used terms such as “concussion” and “nerve damage.” The week after, he apologized and claimed he misused those words. The Lions said he passed concussion protocol when he reentered the game.

Now, Johnson admits he was concussed in that game. He claims he couldn’t see straight. He blacked out. In the end, the organization wanted their million-dollar employee to change his story for the betterment of the team.

During his playing career, Johnson says he got used to playing with concussions.

The Problems with Hiding Concussions

Hiding concussions and forcing players to continue participating in a dangerous game only heightens the potential of further damage. Individuals who suffer concussions are more likely to sustain more head injuries, other ailments, and long-term damages.

Repeated head injuries can cause a person to suffer from chronic traumatic encephalopathy. People who suffer from CTE endure significant long-term problems, and many of the former players who have committed suicide over the years were diagnosed with the condition post-mortem.

Multiple concussions also alter vision, decision-making, coordination, and many other player aspects. These impairments can cause the player to suffer additional injuries. These players are not as aware when they return game as they should be because of the impacts of concussions.

As organizations hide these injuries, they allow players who are suffering to reenter the game well before they should return. The concussion protocol is in place to ensure athletes have the necessary time to recover and limit the possibility of another injury.

Rushing players back into the game—regardless of level—can have lifetime repercussions. While NFL players may have the resources to treat many of these issues, those in collegiate and high school sports do not.

Concussions at the Collegiate Level

The National Collegiate Athletic Association governs college football and other sports. They have concussion protocols in place within teams and ask that coaches and teammates report when a player suffers a concussion.

While this is a good start, the organization does not regulate the concussion protocol as much as they should. Instead, many athletes return to in-game action before they receive clearance. Even worse, some athletes stay in the game, never giving them time to go through the protocol.

Who is to blame?

Multiple parties share the blame when players suffer numerous concussions, including the following:

  • The NCAA: The organization must enforce concussion protocols more strictly. They must ensure that all teams are participating in the protocol whenever a team has a player who suffers a concussion. The protocol doesn’t just mean having the player test well. It also means ensuring the player can safely return to play without the risk of another injury.
  • The player’s team: The team is one of the most prominent reasons players with concussions return to the game too soon. The team invests in the player to help them win games. When concussions remove a player for a game, the team potentially loses a key element. There must be priorities in place to ensure player safety stands well above the need to win.
  • The teammates: The NCAA requires the teammates to report when a player suffers a concussion. However, players listen to their coaches, even if it comes at the risk of a teammate’s health. For the same reasons a team may hide a concussion, teammates may follow suit, protecting the team over their teammate.

Many people want to blame the helmet manufacturers. While helmets can protect players from significant injuries, they don’t necessarily stop concussions from occurring. Concussions happen when a person’s brain rattles inside his or her skull. Helmets don’t stop this from happening. They soften the blow, but they don’t entirely prevent them.

This football season alone, we’ve seen multiple players suffer devastating injuries. Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph took a hard hit to the head, which left him dealing with a concussion. There have also been a few players in college football who sustained concussions because of vicious tackles.

Overall, it’s about educating teams and players about the safety protocols and ensuring they remain in place. However, for college athletes, there must be even more pursuit for justice to help these individuals cover the long-term expenses that stem from multiple concussions.

NCAA Concussion Lawsuits

There are numerous lawsuits in place against the NCAA from former players who are living with the effects of multiple concussions after playing through injuries. It’s essential for people who have gone through this same situation to understand what rights they have fully.

At Shrader & Associates, we are committed to helping our clients get through the process of filing a lawsuit for the concussions they sustained while playing college football. We know how these cases are progressing and always keep our clients updated, so they know what to expect.

Our sports concussion lawyers put in the time and effort to understand the symptoms you experience. We want to personalize your case strategy with your needs and best interests in mind. Let us be your voice when you need us most. We’re ready to go the extra mile to help you seek compensation and justice moving forward.

To discuss your rights in a free consultation with our team, we encourage you to call our firm today at (877) 958-7920. Trust that we have your best interests in mind and go above and beyond to help our clients from start to finish.

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