Lem Barney, a Pro Football Hall of Famer who is one of the scores of former players suing the NFL over brain injuries, says that he now regrets ever playing football at all.
“If I look at the game now and I look back on it retrospectively, if I had another choice I’d never played the game, at all, in my life,” Barney told the Detroit Free Press. “Never. Never. From all-city, all-state, all-conference, all-American, seven times All-Pro, I’m in eight Hall of Fames, it wouldn’t be. It would be golf or tennis. I’m serious. Very serious.”
Surprisingly, Barney says that even though, at the age of 66, he says his health is relatively good. He said he has nerve conditions that cause tingling sensations and prevent him from sleeping more than three or four hours a night, but he can still work full time and is healthier than many of his former teammates.
“I call it blessed,” Barney said of his health. “It’s that type of game. It’s a lethal game. Again, as I tell people, ‘Do you miss the game, Lem?’ And sincerely, I don’t miss the game.”
Barney, who played for the Lions from 1967 to 1977, says no one ever diagnosed him with a concussion while he was playing, because back then players didn’t have doctors looking for concussions. But Barney now believes he had seven or eight concussions. And to him, even the glory of a Hall of Fame career wasn’t worth it.