Players worrying about long-term health risks isn’t new.
But with every passing concussion lawsuit, every study, more players are becoming more worried about the choices they made earlier in their lives.
The Sporting News is doing a series about concussions and their long-term impact on players, and many of the men who voluntarily signed up for this job are having second thoughts now that their career has ended. With stories of players committing suicide or having post-career dementia increasing each year (and with more than 3,000 filing concussion-related lawsuits), it’s easy for them to wonder if they’re next.
“I’m going where they are,” Hall of Fame running back Emmitt Smith told TSN’s Matt Crossman.
Smith said he doesn’t have any symptoms now, but worries that they might be around the corner.
“Knowing what has started to come out in terms of the evidence of guys having mental issues right now, it concerns me, especially when you’ve carried the football more than anybody in the National Football League and have more yardage than anybody in the National Football League,” he said. “That means I probably got hit more than anyone in the National Football League, so why shouldn’t I be concerned?”
The concern is a later-in-life phenomenon, as Smith’s like many players who adopted a whatever-it-takes mentality during his playing days.
In July, Smith said he’d “definitely” lie to doctors to stay on the field, exposing the mindset that’s prevalent among the young.
“How many people think about, ‘Some day I’m going to be 50′ when they’re 20-something years old?” Smith said. “As a young player you can go through certain things that you might not understand the repercussions right then and there because it’s in the moment.”
The concussion issue isn’t going away for the league, and the concerns won’t abate for those who have already chosen to pursue a dangerous path.