Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman says he stayed on the field after the only concussion of his NFL career, and he’s glad he did.
Sherman wrote in a guest column at TheMMQB.com that in his first NFL start, against the Bengals in Week Eight of the 2011 season, he suffered a concussion on the seventh play of the game. But Sherman kept playing, played well, and established himself as one of the league’s best young cornerbacks.
“I couldn’t see,” Sherman writes about the effects of the concussion. “The concussion blurred my vision and I played the next two quarters half-blind, but there was no way I was coming off the field with so much at stake. It paid off: Just as my head was clearing, Andy Dalton lobbed one up to rookie A.J. Green and I came down with my first career interception.”
In Sherman’s opinion, every NFL player has enough information to assess the risks of playing through a concussion, and it’s not for anyone else to say when a player should play and when he should sit out.
“All of us NFL players, from wide receivers to defensive backs, chose this profession,” Sherman writes. “Concussions are going to happen to cornerbacks who go low and lead with their shoulders, wide receivers who duck into contact, safeties who tackle high and linemen who run into somebody on every single play. Sometimes players get knocked out and their concussions make news, but more often it’s a scenario like mine, where the player walks away from a hit and plays woozy or blind. Sometimes I can tell when a guy is concussed during a game—he can’t remember things or he keeps asking the same questions over and over—but I’m not going to take his health into my hands and tell anybody, because playing with injuries is a risk that guys are willing to take. The players before us took that risk too, but they still sued the league because they felt like they were lied to about the long-term risks. Today, we’re fully educating guys on the risks and we’re still playing. We have not hidden from the facts.”
Sherman said his plan for the next time he suffers a concussion is to “get back up and pretend like nothing happened.” That’s the mentality of a lot of NFL players, and there may not be anything the NFL can do to change that.