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Peyton Manning admits to tanking baseline concussion tests

2011 NFL Pro Bowl Getty Images

Alex Marvez of FOXSports.com, who has been embroiled in a hair-growing contest with Tom Brady for which Marvez got a multiple-year head start, recently reported that players privately have told Dr. Daniel Amen that they tank their baseline concussions tests so that it will be easier to get clearance to play again after suffering a concussion.

Colts quarterback Peyton Manning, in a joint ESPN.com interview with his brother Eli and his father Archie, admits to such tanking.

“They have these new [brain] tests we have to take,” Peyton said.  “Before the season, you have to look at 20 pictures and turn the paper over and then try to draw those 20 pictures.  And they do it with words, too.  Twenty words, you flip it over, and try to write those 20 words.  Then, after a concussion, you take the same test and if you do worse than you did on the first test, you can’t play.  So I just try to do badly on the first test.”

There’s a chance that Peyton was joking.  But is cracking heads a topic on which players should be cracking wise, given what we are learning, seemingly every day, about the potential consequences of chronic head trauma in sports (not just football, either)?  If the remark was made in jest (and if so the humor escaped the interviewer, Rick Reilly, who didn’t characterize Peyton as joking — and who nonchalantly teased the topic at the top of the column), it reminds us of Brett Favre’s lame attempt during a 2009 interview with NBC’s Cris Collinsworth to poke fun at the issue.

“People have asked me how many concussion I’ve had,” Favre said, “and I say, ‘I don’t remember.’”

Maybe joking about it is one of the ways that players who consciously assume the risk of serious health issues cope with the situation.  But it still sends an unfortunate message to kids who are too young to fully appreciate the risks — but old enough to be sufficiently hard-headed to insist on playing football.

Meanwhile, it would have been nice to see at least one question directed to Peyton regarding his role as a named plaintiff in the landmark antitrust litigation that has been on the front burner of NFL news for the past few weeks.  Apparently, it was more interesting to talk about the ESPN commercial he and Peyton and Archie did years ago.

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28 Responses to “Peyton Manning admits to tanking baseline concussion tests”
  1. tundey says: Apr 27, 2011 7:23 AM

    Just goes to show how fatalistic some of these guys are. Bear in mind that Peyton isn’t even one of those players one would associate with toughness. If he’s tanking the test, imagine what linebackers and safties are doing.

  2. hartdart says: Apr 27, 2011 7:25 AM

    Man, thats so smart!

  3. crubenst says: Apr 27, 2011 8:07 AM

    Professional football players are grown competent men. If they want to tank the test and risk permanent brain damage that is on them. Its a free country. The important thing is that they’re made aware of the consequences and offered the testing. Its a far cry from the days of a woozy, incoherent player being yelled at by a coach to “get back in there.”

  4. weneedlinemen42 says: Apr 27, 2011 8:33 AM

    “It reminds us of Brett Favre’s lame attempt during a 2009 interview with NBC’s Cris Collinsworth to poke fun at the issue.

    “People have asked me how many concussion I’ve had,” Favre said, “and I say, ‘I don’t remember.’”

    That’s not lame. It’s hardly Oscar Wilde, and Brett Favre’s actions over the last few years have made him look like a complete tool, but that isn’t a lame attempt at humour. His delivery might not have been spot on but then most comedians don’t take as many shots to head as he has.

  5. brianwallenmusic says: Apr 27, 2011 8:37 AM

    If you read the article, it’s pretty clear that Peyton, Eli, and Archie are all cracking jokes the whole way through. The tone of the article is light hearted, funny, and entertaining.

    Consider Peyton’s “serious comments” on other issues.

    “Q: You guys were both overall No. 1s. Are you embarrassed to be sitting here with a guy who only went second?

    Peyton: Yeah, a little. Plus, Mom went fourth one year in the CFL draft.”

    “Q: What did you think last season in the game with the Jets, when blood was just gushing from Eli’s head?

    Peyton: That was overacting.

    Eli: Those 12 stitches weren’t overacting.”

  6. whathappenedtovox says: Apr 27, 2011 8:37 AM

    Is this serious? You can’t joke about concussions? I get that it’s a serious issue in the NFL, but it’s not like we’re talking about cancer or AIDS or something here. Lighten up.

  7. thoff1525 says: Apr 27, 2011 8:40 AM

    Can you blame them? According to Petyon, “you take the same test and if you do worse than you did on the first test, you can’t play.”

    It doesn’t say that you can’t play if you do a certain percentage worse. I am assuming this means that if you do ANY worse on the second test that you can’t play.

    If this is true…it seems very possible that you could fail the test without even having a concussion. In this case, who wouldn’t set their standards a bit low the first time and at least leave room for normal errors or discrepencies.

  8. cleonslamminsalmon says: Apr 27, 2011 9:18 AM

    weneedlinemen42 says:
    Apr 27, 2011 8:33 AM
    “It reminds us of Brett Favre’s lame attempt during a 2009 interview with NBC’s Cris Collinsworth to poke fun at the issue.

    Actually, it didn’t remind me of that at all.

  9. whitetail28 says: Apr 27, 2011 9:18 AM

    Payton is obviously a rocket scientist. Why would you admit to such a thing??? The downward spiral is starting, Peyton Mannings skills are failing and he is in the headlines less and less. AQnything to make the headlines again. The Peyton era is about over and I cant wait!!!

  10. kellyb9 says: Apr 27, 2011 9:18 AM

    Remember this the next time you hear a former player complain about brain issues later in life after football. I mean seriously, you can’t have it both ways… you can’t say that the NFL isn’t doing enough to curb the number of concussions and then tank tests performed to create baselines for concussion related symptoms.

  11. 8man says: Apr 27, 2011 9:21 AM

    And if it is true that’s fine, so long as he and other players who do this aren’t complaining how the perils of the game robbed them of something.

    Message to players: if you get hurt and fear for your long term well being, quit and sell insurance.

    Done with this.

  12. skummyone says: Apr 27, 2011 9:36 AM

    It is actually not a bad idea. What kinds of conditions are the players taking the test under in the first place? If game situations are not simulated for the baseline, of course you are going to do worse on the test during a game and are distracted even if you are fine.

  13. clint7lipke says: Apr 27, 2011 10:02 AM

    Re-draw pictures and re-write words? Hmmm… For some reason I thought concussion tests were WAY deeper and way more technology based (like brain wave scans or something).

  14. blitz87 says: Apr 27, 2011 10:02 AM

    Peyton would actually have to get hit first to get a concussion anyway.

  15. awdlmd says: Apr 27, 2011 10:09 AM

    I took both of the comments as serious. Farve played football for over 30 years, it’s perfectly reasonable that he doesn’t remember all of his concussions.

    Now if Manning tanked the test that’s pretty stupid. He’s not going to win another Super Bowl and there’s really nothing else for him to accomplish except make another 100M and pad his stats. He should be thinking about the quality of the rest of his life at this point.

  16. yahmule says: Apr 27, 2011 10:11 AM

    No, he’s just stupid.

  17. sterilizecromartie says: Apr 27, 2011 10:15 AM

    Cmon Mike… do you really expect a Rick Reilly piece to be serious?? Of course it was a joke. Reilly himself is a joke. He is a wannabe comedian who somehow has posed himself as a reputable sportswriter for over a decade now.

  18. moochzilla says: Apr 27, 2011 10:29 AM

    Yeah, they’re all about the money.

    Unlike Jeff Lurie and the Eagles, who used the tragedy of 9/11 as an excuse to gouge the fans into buying more in-stadium food. Oh, and who cheated the city out of taxes.

    They’re so admirable.

  19. quarterbacksdontwinorlosesuperbowls says: Apr 27, 2011 10:32 AM

    tundey says:
    April 27, 2011 7:23 a.m.

    Just goes to show how fatalistic some of these guys are. Bear in mind that Peyton isn’t even one of those players one would associate with toughness. If he’s tanking the test, imagine what linebackers and safties are doing.

    186 
    —————————————————
    yeah, who would think a guy with over 200 consecutive starts was tough? amazing…..

  20. bsandcs says: Apr 27, 2011 10:36 AM

    honest question – i know the labor battle, at heart, is about money, but one of the players’ stances has been along the lines of “we put our bodies and, according to some *cough Visanthe Shiancoe* lives on the line” so therefore they deserve all the obscene amounts of money they receive and should in fact be entitled to more.

    If the players are going to play games like this, aimed at circumventing safety measures and thus knowingly increase the risks of serious injury , then why, as the NFL, would I be inclined to pay them even more money on this front?

  21. ravenution says: Apr 27, 2011 10:44 AM

    Why is Peyton concerned with this test when noone is allowed within 5 yards of him or risk a roughing the passer penalty? Hes making excuses. He maybe football smart, but me thinks Peyton is probably a dumbbutt off the field.

  22. bsandcs says: Apr 27, 2011 11:01 AM

    this drives me crazy especially with concussions and long term brain injury being such a hot button topic . if you are going to intentionally fail medical tests put in place to enhance player safety, then quit playing the victim about it.

    I know there are guys out there who really do need and are deserving of long term health care from the league and those guys are probably falling through the cracks. But most of these clowns playing today…the more I hear, the less sympathy I have.

  23. koch23jk says: Apr 27, 2011 11:25 AM

    I wonder if he put on the “bitter beer face” for the tests to really sell his tanking on the test…

  24. whathappenedtovox says: Apr 27, 2011 12:48 PM

    moochzilla says: Apr 27, 2011 10:29 AM

    Unlike Jeff Lurie and the Eagles, who used the tragedy of 9/11 as an excuse to gouge the fans into buying more in-stadium food.
    ________________________

    Huh? That’s news to me. Can you please go a little deeper on this?

  25. moochzilla says: Apr 27, 2011 1:13 PM

    bsandcs:

    “stances has been along the lines of “we put our bodies and, according to some *cough Visanthe Shiancoe* lives on the line” so therefore they deserve all the obscene amounts of money they receive and should in fact be entitled to more.”

    They aren’t asking for more money. How did you miss that?

    The owners are asking for more money.

    Read up on the topic.

  26. granadafan says: Apr 27, 2011 2:20 PM

    People forget that Peyton has the current longest consecutive streak of playing in games. He rarely comes out even during blowouts. Peyton can break diva Favre’s precious record and with a lot more class.

  27. moochzilla says: Apr 27, 2011 2:23 PM

    1) For many years you were allowed to being food into Eagles games. They stopped that after 9/11 claiming it was a security risk. That decision was reversed a few months later when the PR hit the fan.

    2) The Eagles claimed they had a handshake deal with our ex-Mayor (John Street, a corrupt machine hack) to forgive them $8M in tax delinquency. However, there was no record. Street denied it. And they never claimed the $8M as a forgiven debt on their corporate return. The fought the city for over a year on it, at a time when the team was making a fortune and Lurie was building a gharish monstrosity home on the Main Line. AT this time the city was closing libraries and pools. The settled for $3M because the city couldn’t litigate it anymore because of the budget crisis.

  28. chinacat73 says: Apr 27, 2011 7:25 PM

    first off, Peyton doesn’t conduct the questioning so to say that talking about his commercial was more important is crap. Secondly, from the article you can tell that he said it in jest, slapstick humor. Why would he have to fail? He is covered all the time and is hardly sacked? i understand he is a face of football and maybe shouldn’t have approached this the way he did, but he’s Peyton. The whole interview was humurous, not serious. Find something else to pick at

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