Lost in the recent soul-searching regarding whether current and former players would allow their children to play football is whether the current and former players would do it all over again.
Former NFL defensive player of the year Jason Taylor believes that, for 95 percent of all former players, the answer would be, “Yes.”
That’s what Taylor told Joe Rose of WQAM in Miami earlier this morning, as part of a wide-ranging and thought-provoking appearance.
If anything, Taylor’s number may be low.
Taylor’s comments come at a time when guard Jacob Bell walked away from the sport after eight years, due in part to concerns regarding head injuries. “It’s a blessing to be able to retire and walk away on my own instead of being forced out of it,” Bell recently told Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. “Think about what the guys are going through. Everybody wants to make the money, but what are you really sacrificing? If they tell you we’re going to take your brain and whack it with a baseball bat, but we’ll give you a couple million bucks, how many people would really do that? . . . I compare us to modern-day gladiators. We’re giving our lives to the game of football for a price.”
Bell’s point is a great one — but the real question is whether he’d do it again. It’s one thing to walk away after reaching the one-year-veteran-minimum stage of a career. It’s another to walk away when the Rams are dangling a six-year, $36 million deal, which they did — and which Bell signed — in 2008.
And it’s quite another to say truthfully that Bell never would have played pro football.
That’s a question that each of the concussion plaintiffs will have to answer at some point: whether they would have refused to play if they had known everything players now know about concussions. For any of the concussion plaintiffs who are willing to tell the truth, that could be fatal to their claim that the NFL failed to warn them of the risks.