Everyone who plays football understands that there are risks involved. It’s a tough, physical sport, sometimes a violent sport, and sometimes a sport that leaves its participants with life-changing injuries. Lions center Dominic Raiola understands all that.
“It’s common knowledge that people are going to suffer,” Raiola told the Detroit Free Press. “Memory loss is going to come. You’re hitting every time you step on the field. I’m ready for it.”
But in a glimpse into the mind of an NFL player that shows why these men are willing to put their bodies on the line in their 20s and 30s even if it means they’ll suffer for decades later, Raiola says he’ll gladly accept health problems down the road because he loves playing so much now. And Raiola adds that he wouldn’t join in with the former players who are suing the NFL, because Raiola says playing in the NFL is just too much of a pleasure.
“It’s worth it. It’s totally worth it,” Raiola said. “This is the best job in the world. I’d never trade it for anything, so I don’t know if I could justify suing the league when I’m done, because it’s given me up to this point, 11 years. Even though we’ve lost for 10, it’s given me 11 years of fun. I have fun every time I step on the field, and I think that’s what it’s all about. When I’m at home in my rocking chair at 40, I don’t think I’m going to be thinking about suing the NFL. I’m going to be thinking about those guys I played with in the locker room and, hopefully, these good years coming up.”
What many of the former players who are suing the NFL say, however, is that they didn’t realize the extent to which they were threatening their long-term health. And many of them accuse the NFL of deliberately misleading them about just how dangerous it is to suffer concussions. Although the NFL has recently begun taking proactive steps to protect players from concussions, for years the response to a concussion was something along the lines of, “Shake it off and get back out there.”
Raiola, however, says he’s more than happy to get back out there.
“I think,” Raiola said, “when you sign up for this job, you know what you’re getting in to.”