Lions defensive tackle Haloti Ngata is heading into his 12th NFL season only after talking with a doctor about the risks of long-term brain damage.
Ngata told Justin Rogers of the Detroit News his agent helped him find a good neurologist who could tell him whether he’s showing any signs of brain damage from his many years in the trenches. The neurologist gave him a clean bill of health.
“I went and talked to a neurologist, wanted to make sure my head was good, all that,” Ngata said. “He said everything was pretty good, really good actually. I was like, ‘All right, I’m going to keep on playing.’ My wife was like, ‘I guess so.’ ”
Ngata had brain scans and psychological testing and said he felt more comfortable with the decision to keep playing after being told that his brain is in good shape.
“With all the things that going on with brain stuff throughout the league, you definitely keep an eye on it,” Ngata said. “You hear that stuff and you don’t want to have problems when you’re older. I want to be able to raise my kids and be able to play with them when they’re older and still be able to beat them in wrestling matches and stuff when they’re teenagers.”
The 33-year-old Ngata hasn’t decided whether to keep playing beyond 2017, but he’s heading into this season confident that it’s safe for him to do so.