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Polamalu refuses to say whether he suffered a concussion


Congratulations, Steelers.  Your use of a term other than “concussion” has officially given the condition the same stigma as herpes, HIV, and leprosy.

Why else would safety Troy Polamalu refuse to say on Friday whether he suffered a concussion five nights earlier against the Chiefs?  Andrew Stockey of WTAE asked the question, and Polamalu took the fifth on whether he has sustained his eighth known concussion.

Regardless of the reason, it’s bizarre that a team and a player would be so defiant when it comes to acknowledging what anyone who has had fewer than 50 concussions realizes:  Against the Chiefs, Troy Polamalu sustained a concussion.

The mere fact that he refused to answer the question confirms it.

Perhaps the Steelers have avoided the “C” word in order to keep a truly independent neurologist out of the team’s and the player’s business.  Or maybe the goal is to subtly influence players to try to conceal their “concussion-like symptoms” whenever and wherever possible, as part of facing down the demons inherent to the sport.

“That’s the fear, I think, that any player faces, and that’s the fear that anybody, any individual faces — overcoming any certain fears of being a coward, you know, or letting your teammates down or turning down a hit,” Polamalu said regarding whether he’s concerned about a hit to the head that could cause long-term damage.  “That’s the beautiful thing about sports, is these fears are right in your face and it’s pretty obvious if you turn them down or not.  I have the fear.  No question about it.  But I’m willing to fight it, for sure.”

I continue to believe that football players who are lucid and capable of making informed decisions should be permitted to assume all risks associated with playing football, even if they are still suffering from concussion-like (or concussion-actual) symptoms.  For now, the issue is whether the Steelers will fully embrace and respect the league’s current rules, which contemplate a full tearing down of the wall that resides between “rubbing dirt on it” and acknowledging that serious, long-term damage could be done to a fairly vital organ.

Those rules entail encouraging players to be candid, not secretive, about the condition of their brains.  Polamalu’s simple refusal to admit the obvious shows conclusively that, within the Steelers organization, there’s an implicit understanding that confronting the fear of serious injury includes shrugging off the blows to the head that don’t create serious problems in the short term.

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51 Responses to “Polamalu refuses to say whether he suffered a concussion”
  1. eigglesnosuperbowls says: Dec 3, 2011 9:52 AM

    He is not refusing he just can’t remember !

  2. raiderej says: Dec 3, 2011 9:56 AM

    Didn’t think a person could get a concussion with the cushion of such a preeetttty hair weave.

  3. easyeddie says: Dec 3, 2011 9:57 AM

    Someday in the future after his playing days are over, Polamalu will sadly find himself in a nursing home eating from a straw and it will be no one but his, Tomlin’s and the Steelers brass’ fault. They should be ashamed of themselves.

  4. ticalcaldwell says: Dec 3, 2011 10:04 AM

    The Steelers know that they need all hands on deck to beat the Bengals………………..times are changing…..AJ Green and Dalton are the future…………………WHODEY

  5. i3addog says: Dec 3, 2011 10:06 AM

    Clearly he hasn’t read any of the data showing the long term effects concussions can have. Way to play into the ole dumb jock stereotype. When you brain turns to mush you won’t remember playing any football.

  6. ducksouped says: Dec 3, 2011 10:07 AM

    He wants to get knocked out and into oblivion that’s his business. Some people wouldn’t advise it, but it’s his life

  7. Old Guy says: Dec 3, 2011 10:13 AM

    Mike – have you forgotten everything you should have learned in law school? “The mere fact that he refused to answer the question” confirms nothing. It can lead to speculation, but it confirms nothing.

  8. simonizer85 says: Dec 3, 2011 10:15 AM

    I’m beginning to not feel any ounce of sympathy for these players… I find it interesting that so many retired players can barely walk, but current players are too blind by their “pride” to admit something is wrong. I mean honestly, how can you not understand what concussions do to a person? Listening to Aikman talk for 5 minutes makes me want to live in a bubble.

  9. steelersownyou says: Dec 3, 2011 10:18 AM

    This kind of willingness to win & toughness is not present in the NFL anymore! Every other team should take note of the Steelers. Our QB is toughest in the league & our team is by far toughest in the league. Other teams have soft QB’s and soft defenses. Ours are tough & hard nosed…Truly a throwback team..while you have guys like desean jackson & jay cutler tapping out, we have a bunch of guys that NEVER tapout! Never been so proud to be a Steelers fan!!!!!

  10. steelbydesign says: Dec 3, 2011 10:19 AM

    Polamalu’s simple refusal to admit the obvious shows conclusively that, within the Steelers organization, there’s an implicit understanding that confronting the fear of serious injury includes shrugging off the blows to the head that don’t create serious problems in the short term.


    I’m getting so tired of these anti-Steeler articles… Just because Troy doesn’t want to talk about his possible concussion, doesn’t mean the Steelers are involved.

    Maybe it’s just the sort of players we have on our team, you know… ones that are tough, and want to be out there on the field, doing their job…

    But I guess that’s not today’s NFL.

  11. jg725 says: Dec 3, 2011 10:19 AM

    Who is he really fooling??
    When he winds up like mike webster and the rest of the old steeler juicers – he can be proud that he didn’t miss the cinn game in dec ’11

  12. steelersownyou says: Dec 3, 2011 10:43 AM

    Bengals getting owned by polamalu & steelers tomorrow! Who dey? We dey!

  13. holeinone09 says: Dec 3, 2011 10:52 AM

    @easyeddie says:
    Dec 3, 2011 9:57 AM
    Someday in the future after his playing days are over, Polamalu will sadly find himself in a nursing home eating from a straw and it will be no one but his, Tomlin’s and the Steelers brass’ fault. They should be ashamed of themselves.

    * * * * * *

    Excuse me but exactly what should they be ashamed of? For NOT puttting Troy back into the game?! Listen up everyone, Troy DID NOT GO back into that game. After that hit, he stayed OUT OF THE GAME. Further, Tomlin said this week that Troy had to pass tests adminstered by the doctors to be cleared to play this week.

    I don’t understand what is wrong with some people, they just have to have something negative to say about Pittsburgh.


  14. dennychimes says: Dec 3, 2011 10:56 AM

    A violent sport with serious repercussions. The NFL, Teams, Doctors, and Specialists have tried with some success to limit player injuries. However they still occur. The players MUST do their part and recognize the implications of denying that they are injured. Concussions are not visible by nature. Only testing done by certified specialists in the field of Brain contusions can. A history such as Polomalu has leans heavily towards his having experienced a concussion no matter how slight. The NFL is full of former players for what ever the reason denied injury to play and are now feeling the effects of their bravado. I pray for his sake that it is not true (That he suffered a concussion) for if he hits his head again before healing takes place and experiences a major bleed, the consequences are terrible. Sit down Troy. Take an extra week. What do you have left to prove? I am not a Steeler fan but at what cost is winning a game as opposed to enjoying the rest of your life?

  15. johntonioholmes says: Dec 3, 2011 11:01 AM

    Maybe he refused to answer the question for the same reason that Urban Meyer said he was not in contract talks with OSU 2 days before he signed with them.

    Sorry, but this isn’t the bombshell that you’ve been hoping for. Teams routinely have their players act coy regarding injuries and starting statuses and whatnot.

    And if he’s been cleared to play (which it sounds like he has) why can’t he play?

    Your issue is not with the Steelers then; it’s with the league.

  16. 3ghostninja says: Dec 3, 2011 11:06 AM

    This is the thing about the concussions:

    Everyone takes concussion to mean “100% certain there will be problems later on”. The reality is, there isn’t enough data to support that. All you can do is show a correlation based on a limited number of cases. The same reasoning goes into the statement “That guy is driving too fast. He’s going to kill someone.” That is not true most of the time.

    I believe the same thing about concussions. Some of the people who have sustained them will experience long term effects. Not all. In realty, no one’s really telling you how strong that correlation is but rather it’s the morally indignant “Even one is one too many”.

    But if we continue down the “what if” road, we might as well just stop playing football, hockey and probably soccer (snob football) altogether.

    The only thing that is certain is everyone will die someday. So while we’re here, we might as well do what we love without worrying.

  17. ahostiletakeover says: Dec 3, 2011 11:13 AM

    As I’ve said before, I’m a Ravens fan and I have the utmost respect for Polamalu’s ability and passion for the game. But as fun as it was to see him upend a 300 lb offensive lineman, he should have anticipated an injury with the way he decided to take him out. Going low on a guy like that who has 80 lbs on you, and leading the way he did is never gonna wind up good for the smaller guy. Yes, he was making a big stop, but where was that lineman really gonna go with that pass? He was already near the sideline when it happened, Troy could have gotten him out of bounds almost as easy, and with much less risk than the way he took the dude down. I feel for Troy’s family, because if he keeps up the insane (no insane is not a positive adjective in this case) physical play he has over the last few years, its gonna be hard on them once he’s retired with 30 concussions…

  18. safetypolice says: Dec 3, 2011 11:24 AM

    As a fan of player safety nothing concerns me more than Mr. Polamalu’s quality of life post-NFL. Although he was promptly pulled from last week’s game, not permitted to return and evaluated by several neurologists the thing that concerns me the most is the fact that he refuses to admit he had a concussion! We all know the biggest threat to a player’s long term mental health is denial! In short, Mr. Goodell would be remiss not to fine James Harrison a minimum of $20,000 for this inexcusable lapse in judgment.

  19. andygraham says: Dec 3, 2011 11:48 AM

    If players want the NFL to take a closer look at their retirement and disability plan, then they need to make sure they’re doing their part to take care of themselves now. You can’t use yourself as a helmeted human torpedo and then expect the company you work for to pick up the check years down the road when your brain turns to gravy, especially if you weren’t accurately representing your conditions when they occurred.

  20. habsman says: Dec 3, 2011 11:58 AM

    Lets not forget, the Steelers were the only team in the NFL that did not ratify the new labor agreement because of the HGH testing clause.

  21. mrnick66 says: Dec 3, 2011 12:03 PM

    a former football player came up with the term “disposable heros” how true!!!

  22. sf49erguy says: Dec 3, 2011 12:06 PM

    he can lie about this one but if he keeps tackling with his head it will be a matter time until he’s Merrill Hoge stupid…

  23. pdkknelson says: Dec 3, 2011 12:39 PM

    If he knew he hadn’t then his answer would have been an emphatic NO. A non-answer means YES.

  24. johnnyb1976 says: Dec 3, 2011 12:46 PM

    Really… Everyone in Pittsburg is a neurologist now? Anyone with half a brain could see Troy was concussed….. On second thought this is Pittsburg fans were talking about which would be lucky to have half a brain….

  25. Deb says: Dec 3, 2011 1:08 PM

    Maybe he thinks it’s none of your business. Heaven knows if I’d read all this carry-on about something that–unfortunately–happens to players all over the league, I wouldn’t respond. Good grief. It’s easy to look up. The Steelers pressed for higher concussion standards long before the league ever mentioned it. The Steelers were one of the first–if not the first–teams to have a neurologist on the sidelines during games. None of these players has re-entered a game. Their terminology is irrelevant. All that matters is their safety.

  26. backindasaddle says: Dec 3, 2011 1:13 PM

    There is no consistency from the league on the concussion issue as yet. The league should be up the Steelers butt about this little charade with Polamalu. It seems as though some players are allowed to conceal/not acknowledge that they received a concussion and continue playing at their own discretion, while others fall under the iron hand of the league and are subject to intensive medical oversight and procedural checklists before being blessed for a return to the field of play.

  27. cowhawkfan says: Dec 3, 2011 1:35 PM

    Troy shoulda been fined for the hit that knocked himself out. Leading with the head is supposedly illegal, which he clearly did.

    Secondly, why doesn’t the NFL review this type of play and require an independent exam? Clearly, Troy suffered an injury. Was it a concussion, let the independent physician make the call.

  28. mr86ism says: Dec 3, 2011 1:40 PM

    Oh please. Like we are really concerned about a players’ health. They are entertainers to us. We have no real connection other than they play for the teams we love. If TP wants to go on not saying anything more power to him. Thats his right as a person. He plays a game with obvious risks and for him to keep going shows a dedication to this sport that has gone unseen this last decade. Big ups to TP

  29. rubbernilly says: Dec 3, 2011 2:07 PM

    Still looking to litigate this, Volde?

    Why else would safety Troy Polamalu refuse to say on Friday whether he suffered a concussion five nights earlier against the Chiefs?

    Oh, I don’t know…

    Because NFL teams are notoriously secretive about *all* of their injuries?

    Because, if he can lead a few gullible souls at the Bucs (and/or, well, you…) to the notion that he might have really had a concussion even though it was only concussion-like-symptoms, and therefore that he might be less than 100%, and thus derive some competitive advantage from that misdirection?

    But that’s just off the top of my head. I’m sure you can come up with more if you put your mind to it.

  30. rarson says: Dec 3, 2011 2:24 PM


    I’m not sure about the other people posting here, but I personally think it’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to concussions. It’s not like a concussion means certain death; most times a concussion leads to a full recovery with no long-term effects.

    However, it’s a different story when guys are repeatedly concussed, like in football. You can see it in the players, too: guys that have been concussed a lot in the past seem far more susceptible to concussions. Same can be said about UFC fighters that have been knocked out a lot (Chuck Liddell, anyone?)

    All I’m saying is that, while concussions usually aren’t a big deal, they CAN be when they happen a lot, and I’d personally rather err on the side of safety than risk ruining their retired lives.

    In this case, though, I think drawing the conclusion that Mike did here is absolutely silly. I think it’s far more likely that the Steelers are simply more strict about what their players are and aren’t allowed to tell the press, especially since players have been pretty cavalier with injury information this year (like Arian Foster’s MRI tweet). I see no reason to assume anything other than Troy simply isn’t allowed to disclose this information to the press. After all, that’s really the coach’s job, not the player’s.

  31. steelhammer92 says: Dec 3, 2011 2:42 PM

    The only reason you keep talking about Polamalu and the Steelers is because this happened on national TV, on SNF. I’d be willing to bet this kind of stuff happens in a lot of games and goes unnoticed, especially by linemen where concussions are harder to notice. The only reason the Chargers player a few weeks back was a national story was because he suffered a seizure. He stayed in the game, Polamalu and Hines Ward earlier this season did not. You act as if the Steelers are the only team with concussion issues. Give me a break. We all know Steelers articles bring the most viewers and replies.

  32. hedleykow says: Dec 3, 2011 3:13 PM

    What is complicated? For purposes of leverage in future contract negotiations, the same player has more value with 3 concussions than 6 concussions. It’s business – plain and simple. Everyone gets the medical aspects – we get it and the players get it. Why paint this as something it isn’t, other than to sensationalize the story?

  33. stevenfbrackett says: Dec 3, 2011 3:19 PM

    The league needs to find a way to step in. The team and Palamalu himself are putting his life in very real danger.

    I hate to think it will take a player dying on the sidelines or even on the field from the brain trauma to get everyone on the same page and actually trying to prevent it wherever possible. But it looks like that is what Pittsburgh is going to need.

  34. bravin4evr says: Dec 3, 2011 3:42 PM

    He will be wanting to sue the nfl after he retires because he’s too concussed to realize that he should not be playing….

  35. theroc5156 says: Dec 3, 2011 4:03 PM

    I’m a Bengals fan and hate the Steelers and I cannot wait until Polomalu is out of the league but not because of injury. I hope he starts tackling the proper way because he won’t last much longer with the way he leads with his head. There is not one better defensive player in the NFL when he’s 100%.

    That being said, I don’t think the injury against the Chiefs looked like he hurt his head. Looked more like a stinger to me so I’m not surprised it’s not a concussion.

  36. stew48 says: Dec 3, 2011 4:04 PM

    The saddest part about this entire item is the author’s effort to twist everything to prove that he has the answer to this and all other matters pertaining to the NFL. His non-fact statements are ludicrous on their face. Self-serving is the only term that describes his efforts. By the way, Meyer NEVER said anything except that he had not been offered nor had he accepted a position. And, yet again, twisted info to those who are gullible.

  37. raqaiw says: Dec 3, 2011 5:43 PM

    Non-Steelers fans say investigate and inquire.
    Steelers fans say conceal and dodge then hurl insults.

    Nothing new here folks.

  38. Deb says: Dec 3, 2011 6:04 PM

    @stew48 …

    You were allowed to criticize the author??? Omigosh, you are special. I wasn’t allowed to criticize “the media.” Wish I had your clout 😉

  39. howley1 says: Dec 3, 2011 6:19 PM

    Mike – have you forgotten everything you should have learned in law school? “The mere fact that he refused to answer the question” confirms nothing. It can lead to speculation, but it confirms nothing.


    Are you under the impression that PFT is a court of law?

  40. howley1 says: Dec 3, 2011 6:21 PM

    Maybe he thinks it’s none of your business. Heaven knows if I’d read all this carry-on about something that–unfortunately–happens to players all over the league, I wouldn’t respond. Good grief. It’s easy to look up. The Steelers pressed for higher concussion standards long before the league ever mentioned it.


    And now they’re trying to conceal Polamalu’s concussion. It’s not rocket science, Deb. The Steelers have been hypocrites for a looong, long time.

  41. kairn42 says: Dec 3, 2011 6:43 PM

    This is such a joke.

    You’re ‘calling out’ a player who NEVER WENT BACK IN THE GAME.

    Let’s call out the player WHO HAD A SEIZURE ON THE FLIGHT HOME for STAYING IN THE GAME. Where are the mountains of articles on that PFT? How come you’re not lighting your torches and sharpening your pitchforks over that ‘violation of League policy’?

    The fact that this article states that Troy’s refusal to answer ‘shows conclusively’ that he had a concussion shows that you were far more of a hack lawyer than you are a hack journalist.

  42. goinghamonit128 says: Dec 3, 2011 6:57 PM

    And he obviously hates Pittsburgh.

  43. lawboy2000 says: Dec 3, 2011 7:26 PM

    This is nothing more than an argument of form over function. The fact is that Polamalu and Ward were both held out of games in which they received blows to the head that resulted in some level of impairment based on a sideline evaluation. How the injuries were described to sideline reporters during the game or to the media on Tuesday is absolutely meaningless. The focus should be on the actions of the team and the team has clearly acted responsibly in holding both players out of the games in which they were injured.

    The suggestion that the game day description of the injury somehow reduces the standard of care applied during the subsequent medical evaluations of the players is slanderous and reckless. If a medical evaluation later in the week reveals no concussion, then there is no reason for further examinations or limited playing time.

    Each individual brain responds differently to head injuries. The experiences of Syndney Crosby, Eric Lindross, Merril Hoge, Troy Aikman, Steve Young, Mike Webster and Forrestt Gregg are anecdotal, not definitive of Hines Ward, Troy Polamalu or any other individual. The NFL recongnizes this fact and has appropriately elected to apply a policy that allows for individual evaluations of each player instead of applying a Draconian mandate of extensive medical protocol and mandatory missed playing time for any and all head injuries. Whether the same policy should be applied at levels below the NFL is a decision for those organizations and the parents involved in those organizations.

  44. steelerchicken says: Dec 3, 2011 9:34 PM


    I hate to ruin your idea of Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny but chances are you will also end up in a nursing home one day!

    Troy is one of the most articulate men I have come across. The Steelers are one of the Top 5 organizations in the NFL. They have respect for their players! Did you ever think they are the smart ones for inventing concussion like symptoms? Ward and Troy never returned to the game each injured their head.

    Also, The Bungals will always be the red headed step child to the Ravens and Steelers!

  45. lookatthefarside says: Dec 3, 2011 11:25 PM

    The reason why polamalu won’t comment is because he can’t remember what had happened.

  46. jjs90230 says: Dec 4, 2011 1:58 AM

    He obviously had a concussion by the way he refused to answer the question. Only someone who has had some brain damage would conceal the “C” word. What is the point when everyone else already knows the answer? Seriously.

    I am not a Steelers fan but still I would want him to have a quality of life after football and he obviously can’t see the bigger picture (again because he has had 8 concussions!!!). Hello, is anyone inside that head of his?????

    Shame on the Steelers organization for not having his best interests as a human being at the top of the list. Oh yeah, I almost forgot …. I don’t really care about the Steelers.

  47. steelernation1 says: Dec 4, 2011 8:29 AM

    Does anyone know that The HIPAA Privacy Rule provides federal protections for personal health information held by covered entities and gives patients an array of rights with respect to an illness or injury?so why not back off?no one has to say what the nature of there injury is really.or illness.any team in any sport has a right to say undisclosed injury because that is a persons right to not disclose the nature of an injury or illness.

  48. bmoreballbuster says: Dec 4, 2011 8:32 AM

    When asked recently about his sense of clarity and focus Troy chimed in saying, “To me football is , ya know blue and red make PURPLE…Isn’t it a great hair day?…Has anyone eaten more snow then me?…It must be Gameday b/c it’s Tuesday…My cup goes in front, right?…Cheerleaders pompoms are so funny hehehe…Did you know that Palamalu in Hawaiian means “mouth-full-of-marbles”? Yup Troy is definitely GOOD TO GO!

  49. slamin12b says: Dec 4, 2011 9:23 AM

    Doc. – “Troy I’m going to ask you a question to see if are OK to play.”
    Troy – ” OK Doc.”
    Doc. – “What is 2+2?”
    Troy – ” UM…..Jello!”
    Doc. – ” Ok Mike he’s good to go.”

  50. steelersownyou says: Dec 4, 2011 9:23 AM

    @bmoreballbuster…..Troy also said did I make a pick 6 in the AFC championship against Fluke-o? Uhhh yes you did Troy…Did I also soar over the defensive line in that same game on 4th and 1 and stuff Fluke-o behind the line of scrimmage? Uhhh yes you did Troy. Oh ok then im definitely good to go!

  51. bmoreballbuster says: Dec 4, 2011 12:17 PM

    @steelersownyousays…When asked if Mr. Polamalu could compare his concussion-like symptoms to that of a fellow team mate, he referenced that of Mr. Hines who had a head-detaching symptom brought on by (#1 LB of all times) RAY “stay-down-fool” Lewis! PS-Paybacks a B*tch

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