Zach Thomas has no regrets after multiple concussions

After 13 seasons in the NFL and more concussions than he can count, former Dolphins and Cowboys linebacker Zach Thomas says he doesn’t regret anything about his career, even if it damaged his brain.

I don’t know how many concussions I had,” Thomas told the Palm Beach Post Monday. “I played through some of them, I guess. I just said it was a sinus problem. You don’t want that [concussion-prone] label, because it’ll run you out of the league.”

Those comments point to one of the biggest obstacles the NFL has to overcome regarding concussions: Even if the league, coaches and team doctors take every precaution to prevent players who suffered concussions from returning to the field before they’re ready, some players will mislead their coaches and team doctors because they want to play even if they’re risking their health.

And Thomas says he’s glad he played the way he did, even as he discusses some of the symptoms of his concussions.

“You get fuzzy vision and can’t concentrate,” Thomas said. “It’s hard to focus. Regrets? No. I knew the risks and chose to take them. If somebody told me when I was a rookie that I’d have the career I had, I’d do it all over again.”

35 responses to “Zach Thomas has no regrets after multiple concussions

  1. “If somebody told me when I was a rookie that I’d have the career I had, I’d do it all over again.”
    Soon they will have to tell you what kind of career you had because you wont remember.

  2. Good player, good guy. It’d be nice to see him in the Hall some day but he probably won’t make it because his name isn’t Ray Lewis, even though his numbers are better.

  3. Zach would have had some regrets, but he had too many concussions to remember them.

  4. I like his attitude. These old players need to stop complaining about concussions. They know the risk when they sign up, and the money they will make.

  5. With apologies to Rudyard Kipling:
    If gettin’ thy bell rung a few times be the price of being insanely wealthy,
    Lord God, we ha’ paid it in full!

  6. The fact that he doesn’t care his brain is screwed up indicates how much damage he has suffered from the concussions. His statements clearly indicate he should have been stopped from playing a long time before he did leave the league.

  7. Mrs. Zach Thomas: Honey, would you like me to make you a roast beef sandwich for lunch?!
    Zach Thomas: Freemasons sound like purple. (drool falls & soaks shirt)

  8. hnirobert says:
    May 18, 2010 9:25 AM
    Good player, good guy. It’d be nice to see him in the Hall some day but he probably won’t make it because his name isn’t Ray Lewis, even though his numbers are better.
    ———————————————
    You must have had a number of concussions as well.

  9. The interview was cut short when staff at the Valley Willows facility interrupted to say that “Mr. Thomas needs to be fed his evening meal now, and afterwards we’d like him to rest”.

  10. And THAT is the seminal point. These are GROWN men with millions of dollars at stake. Life is about tradeoffs. Personally, I wouldn’t make that tradeoff–long-term health for a few extra seasons of playing pro football (and the associated millions of dollars—particularly if I’d already made millions). But I’m not about to infringe on Zach Thomas’s right to make his own choice. Yes–I agree with protocols so “management” and coaches can’t overrule doctors opinions (or go “doctor shopping” to find a doctor who will clear an obviously concussed player) and place undo pressure on a player. But ultimately, if a doctor clears a player (even if he clears him based on a player that is lying), and the player chooses to play in order to “save” his job… well… sorry… that’s his choice. The NFL can choose to try to save the players from themselves. I’ve got no problem with that. But these are grown men. We ALL make implicit choices about how much we value our lives and our health based on how fast we drive, our lifestyle “habits”, or even by getting on a plane (among the hundreds of other choices we make in life that carry implicit “risk”). I’ve got no issues with a player risking some loss of quality at the end of their lives, for more “quality” in the earlier/middle part of their lives. And neither should anyone else, imho.

  11. The risk was worth the reward to Mr. Thomas. Period. If a lot of these guys can make that kinda money elsewhere, with less risk, I am sure they will…

  12. That’s a football player…
    Simply put – Thomas, like many others, would trade run-the-road health concerns for fame/wealth.

  13. hnirobert says:
    May 18, 2010 9:25 AM
    Good player, good guy. It’d be nice to see him in the Hall some day but he probably won’t make it because his name isn’t Ray Lewis, even though his numbers are better
    —————————-
    so whats the weather like there in la- la land?

  14. The media distort & exagerate the concusion issue.
    What about the health risks with mining?
    – – Alaskan offshore fishing?
    — Radiological work?
    — Working for electrical companies?
    — Firefighting & police work?
    Different careers have different health risks. They are skewing the perspective on this because that is what they do.

  15. “Maddog says:
    May 18, 2010 10:19 AM
    hnirobert says:
    May 18, 2010 9:25 AM
    Good player, good guy. It’d be nice to see him in the Hall some day but he probably won’t make it because his name isn’t Ray Lewis, even though his numbers are better.
    ———————————————
    You must have had a number of concussions as well.

    Numbers are close minus the obstruction of justice charges and well, you know..
    Ray Lewis
    194 Games 1759 tot tackles, 1340 solo 419 asst. 36.5 sacks, 14 FF, 28 INT 2 TD
    Zach Thomas
    184 Games 1720 tot tackles 1090 solo 630 asst. 20.5 sacks, 17 FF, 17 INT 4 TD
    Not bad for an overachieving White dude who managed to stay out of trouble his career.
    Is Ray Lewis better. Sure, but if you had Zach Thomas instead of Ray Lewis, would you be missing much, nope.. not at all.

  16. Actually to all the folks saying his numbers aren’t better than Ray Lewis, look them up. Thomas has more tackles than anyone currently IN the HOF. Lot’s more.

  17. Yes. It’s called “compensating differentials” in economic parlance. In simple terms, it’s the differential paid to high-risk jobs that require similar skill sets to lower risk jobs. It doesn’t explain the entire variation across the economy, but a significant portion. Football players exorbinant (sp?) salaries are more because of the uniqueness of their skills set (and consumer’s willingness to pay for those skills), as opposed to a compensating differential. But it’s still a part of the tradeoff equation every player must make. Kurt Warner and Troy Aikman largely retired due to concussions–I got no problem with that. Would they have made the same decision if they were 25 and had yet to “cash in”? Maybe. Maybe not. But it’s a choice they should be able to make–unless a medical professional determines they lack the capacity to make such a decision. If the players are being lied to, or being fed knowingly false information about the risks/rewards… well that’s different. But the NFL has made it a priority to educate itself and players on the risks. Regardless of what happened in the past (where we didn’t know as much as we do now), a players choice to take said risks (including the risk of what we DON’T know) shouldn’t be usurped by a bunch of do-gooder politicans or media types who think they know best–when they probably don’t know jack sh*t except for a few anecdotal examples of extreme outcomes that make for a good story, but aren’t representative of the entire sample.

  18. Yeah not that I wish Zach Thomas any ill health, but I am sure his views and the long term effects of concusions will be felt when the ish hits the fan.

  19. Sounds like he was talking to a cactus and sitting in his own feces when he was making the comments.

  20. # irishsamurai says: May 18, 2010 10:46 AM
    hnirobert says:
    May 18, 2010 9:25 AM
    Good player, good guy. It’d be nice to see him in the Hall some day but he probably won’t make it because his name isn’t Ray Lewis, even though his numbers are better
    —————————-
    so whats the weather like there in la- la land?
    —————————————————
    Actually, this isn’t far off at all. Here’s some career stats:
    Total Tackles:
    Zach Thomas: 1737 (1106 Solo 631 Asst)
    Ray Lewis: 1045 (754 Solo 291 Asst)
    INT:
    Zach Thomas: 17 (4TD)
    Ray Lewis: 28 (2TD)
    Sacks”
    Zach Thomas: 20.5
    Ray Lewis: 36.5
    Forced Fumbles:
    Zach Thomas: 16
    Ray Lewis: 12
    Keep in mind that Ray Lewis played in some ridiculous defenses and has a lot of help. I’m not discounting at all that is an all-time-great. However, I think that Zach Thomas doesn’t get anywhere near the credit he deserves. He currently has more total tackles than any other linebacker in the hall of fame. He deserves at the very least serious consideration.

  21. Hey Maddog, Zach Thomas has more tackles than ANYONE in the Hall of Fame, and has more Forced Fumbles and more TD’s than Ray Lewis in less games played. He also has a shorter arrest record. Stop letting the media tell you how to think. Zach Thomas SHOULD (although he probably won’t) be a first-ballot Hall of Famer

  22. And this is exactly the reason the NFL should assign medical teams and doctors in those cities who make the call and report to the league instead of to the individual teams. Think of the Indy Racing League’s medical staff who travels from race to race and attends to drivers when there is a crash.
    If the NFL thinks they will get through this concussion epidemic unscathed like they did with the older generations, they’re mistaken. All it takes is 1 enterprising lawyer to bring down the entire house of cards.

  23. Well when you forget what happened, you can always have someone swing you by the HOF in Canton. One of the better under sized LB’s in history. Tackle magnet and a true leader.

  24. Should definitely be a hall of famer. As a pats fan I’ve watched this guy for years and have always been impressed with him. But the concussion thing is nuts. The fact that he doesn’t care is mind blowing to me. The long term effects are gonna suck for this guy. He’ll care when they hit him full force.

  25. “All it takes is 1 enterprising lawyer to bring down the entire house of cards.”
    Florio just handed over the website to 3-G

  26. Zach Thomas is one of the most underrated players in the history of the game. You never really heard that much about him, probably because he wasn’t a diva but he is the best LB to ever wear the aqua and orange.

  27. Guys, how about showin some respect for one of the toughest SOB’s to ever put on a football helmet. Zach Thomas NEVER recieved the credit that he had rightfully earned. I watched him play every Sunday for years and man could this guy tackle. If u wanted someone to stuff the RB at the goal line, u couldn’t do better than Zach Thomas. If Zach Thomas is not inducted into the HOF, than he’s not the one with thebrain damage.

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