Saints quarterback Drew Brees, who made the rounds last week in Manhattan (including a visit to 30 Rock and a spot on PFT Live) had a second media tour in support of efforts to promote awareness of the signs and symptoms of exertional heat stroke. His appearance on The Dan Patrick Show came one day after the wife of Tom Brady promoted (possibly inadvertently) awareness of the fact that Brady has had multiple undiagnosed and undisclosed concussions.
Brees said he wouldn’t tell his wife, Brittany, if he suffered a concussion.
“I wouldn’t want her to worry,” Brees said via ESPN.com, admitting that in 2004 (five years before the league began taking concussions seriously) he tried to play through a concussion while quarterbacking the Chargers.
“I knew that something was not right,” Brees said. “I knew that I was concussed. But I didn’t take myself out of the game. I mean, I stayed in the game and played as long as I could until finally a coach pulled me aside and was like, ‘I’m looking out for you here, and you’re not gonna play anymore.’ . . .
“And that’s why it’s hard to change that mentality for guys. When you’re in the heat of the moment, heat of the battle and it’s competitive, you do not want to pull yourself out. That’s why the concussion protocols are in place where you’ve got the independent neurological consultants and the trainers and the referees. Everybody’s supposed to be looking.”
He’s right; everybody’s supposed to be looking. But if the player is determined to conceal the symptoms, and if the symptoms are sufficiently mild to allow them to be concealed, the system gets short-circuited. Despite advancements in encouraging football players to self-report concussions, too much rides on the ability of a player to play. Brady, who was able to wrest the starting job in New England away from Drew Bledsoe 16 years ago after Bledsoe was injured, surely doesn’t want to give Jimmy Garoppolo or anyone else a chance to play — and in turn to stay on the field.
Once a player enters the concussion protocol, he completely loses control over the process. Brady, who surely wants to control every aspect of his own life, has no desire to surrender control to a doctor or to anyone else. And so it would be no surprise to learn that he hid one or more concussions from the NFL and from the team. At this point, Brady probably wishes he also had hidden it from his wife.