Former Giants LB Corey Widmer disavows football

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Corey Widmer may be the exception, but he’s willing to be the vocal exception.

The former Giants middle linebacker, who played eight years in the NFL, recently turned down an invitation to be enshrined in the Montana Football Hall of Fame because he’s so disturbed by what the game he once played did to him and countless others. So for him, all the pain present and future isn’t worth the money and the glory in his past.

“I think if I’d be putting that jacket on right now I’d probably puke,” Widmer said, via Jon Maletz of the Bozeman Chronicle. “I don’t think I’d be able to shake a hand. And that’s why I’m doing it this way; I don’t want to make some political statement right in the middle of their party and take advantage of some very nice people.

“I can’t sit up there and tell interesting stories and how cool it is — the camaraderie, the fame, things like that — and have somebody else say, ‘Well, if that local kid can do it, so can I.’ It just doesn’t work that easy. . . . I’d never want to give somebody the impression that football is safe and that the injuries are short term. They’re not. I’m proof of that.”

His playing career was ended by a back problem, but he’s dealing with much more than that now. Widmer said he’s suffering from a number of problems which he believes are related to concussions, and doesn’t want that to happen to others. He knows trying to derail the most powerful sports industry in the United States won’t be effective, but he does with he could share his message to convince parents to delay participation in full contact tackle football until the senior year of high school.

Widmer described physical and emotional symptoms consistent with other former players dealing with brain injuries, and he’s fearful for what is to come.

“I’m 49 years old, depressed to the Nth degree but have a lot of money . . . and some people might say it’s still worth it. I just tell them to watch what they wish for,” Widmer said. “If someone could’ve explained all of this to me when I was 14, I would’ve given it all back in a heartbeat. I would’ve wished for something else.

“The 6-foot-2, 260-pound canary in the coal mine has died. Maybe having been in the coal mine is the only way to really get the point across.”

While many former players are willing to acknowledge the benefits of the sport — including financial — Widmer no longer feels comfortable with the trade-off. And he’s willing to walk away from any recognition of his playing career to underscore his point.

26 responses to “Former Giants LB Corey Widmer disavows football

  1. I was born in 1972. I have never in my life seen football painted as “safe” Never once. Not by ANYONE EVER. Too many people want to have their cake and eat it too.

  2. Sorry he feels that way. But any of these players who didn’t understand the risks of the game even in the 90’s were either idiots or they are liars. I knew as a high school football player in ’95 that concussions were dangerous and had effects. Turning a blind eye because you didn’t want to hear it or because you felt pressure for your career does not remove your individual responsibility. I am a Giants fan and Corey Widmer never made headlines like this as a player.

  3. This was in the news last week.I miss the days when you guys scoured the world and put it all on one place.

    I guess getting paid is the same as when (some) players get paid.

  4. I got double concussions in 9th grade. Took me 6 hours to walk 2 miles. I passed out at the grade school 1/2 way home. Puked a few times. I knew then it was not good and I knew I was done. I had a real baseball career ahead of me. I had a choice, finished out the year and was badgered for 3 years more years of HS (even put on the varsity as a 10th grader without showing up the first week).

    The same coaches messed with my Gym grades and one of them became my baseball coach my senior year and referred to me as a loser. I was in the College World Series as a Freshman in college, 1 year later. He got arrested for being a drunk jerk. Still makes me angry that some coaches shouldn’t be within a mile of some kids.

    That was in the late 70’s. We knew then.

  5. The understanding of concussions has risen notably in the past 10-20 years.
    There is a generation gap of perspectives, consequently.
    I don’t think it’s remotely reasonable to paint Widmer as an Idiot or a Liar since the information we have today, or 10 years ago, absolutely was NOT what was being taught in the 1980’s.

  6. factschecker says:
    April 3, 2018 at 9:38 am

    I was born in 1972. I have never in my life seen football painted as “safe” Never once. Not by ANYONE EVER. Too many people want to have their cake and eat it too.

    ————

    Yeah but did anyone point out that at 49 you will be dealing with what he is dealing with? Not safe means you might break a bone or two…. not that your brain will be permanently damaged so you cant think normally for half your life. All the people crying about the NFL turning in to flag football need to wake up.

  7. Agreed, and I have said it on here before. Sure, anyone who does something to wreck their body likely regrets having done so. Watch the new doc on Evel Knievel.

  8. I for one minute don’t question what Widmer is saying, with that said this article also fails to tell the whole story of this guys career and life. In 2007 while in Chile Widmer was severely hurt while para/sailing/gliding!!!! We are all grown ups responsible for our actions, some actions have consequences.What’s football related and what’s from him almost getting killed Para sailing I have no idea but wish him well either way……..

  9. Not a whole lot of detail about what actually ails him. He’s depressed, but so are a lot of other people who don’t play football. It feels more like another anti-football hit piece.

  10. It doesn’t take a genius to realize that ramming your head into another person at full speed over and over is going to have some effect on your brain.

    The risk is obvious.

  11. @TB12#BLITZFOR6 says:

    I for one minute don’t question what Widmer is saying, with that said this article also fails to tell the whole story of this guys career and life. In 2007 while in Chile Widmer was severely hurt while para/sailing/gliding!!!! We are all grown ups responsible for our actions, some actions have consequences.What’s football related and what’s from him almost getting killed Para sailing I have no idea but wish him well either way……..
    ===================================================================================
    I just read the story…fractured vertebrae while paragliding. Had 2 ribs removed to stabilize his already bad back. Ultimately he’s correct about perils of football, however, crashing into the side of the Andes Mountain could equate to 8 years of NFL football. I hope he can regain his health.

  12. Always strive to be the punter, kicker or 3rd string QB. Its much safer that way. lol

  13. I honestly don’t get why parents allow their kids to play tackle football before they are 16 (or at any age for that matter). I’ll probably gets loads of thumbs downs but we obviously know that subconcussive trauma will affect the brain for years and will have a cumulative effect. We know that repetitive subconcussive trauma weakens the brains’ ability to avoid concussions that can be diagnosed and affects how quickly and completely the brain can recover. We know that the brain is still developing as we age into our 20’s. If an adult wants to damage their own body after learning all the facts about tackle football have at it and go with God. I’ll pay to watch. I won’t watch nor condone any football game that features children, I just don’t want to be a part of it.

  14. It’s his life, and if it’s his regret he put himself through it, then who am I to question him, but many people regret what they did when they were young, be it physically, emotionally, financially whatever. No one forced him to play football, football has forever been considered violent. Every guy my age had a youth coach at some point who said. “Rub some dirt on it”… it’s the way is was back then.

  15. PS: I did play Pop Warner football for 1 year. My young coach DID teach us to use our shoulders and not our helmets. I DID learn to tackle correctly. But when I started in 8th grade, then helmet became a weapon. Then I switched Jr Highs and that coach taught cutting the body ( I was the starting LCB/QB). But even so, I got drilled twice on a two seperate goal line stands and can’t recall the whole weekend. I didn’t even go to school until Tuesday. (FB leading the RB and as the CB, I HAD to take on the FB, unfortunately, both times with my head and he was a monster).

    So all the bad and good coaches in the world can be irrelevant, when a Fullback leads a RB into the hole and your job as the CB is to occupy the FB, it’s not pretty. So we shall see how this can possibly be enforced. Maybe 5 yards out. But in the trenches on the goal line? Seems like a pipe dream.

  16. “If you earn enough money you can always hire someone else to do the thinking for you.”
    -Gordie Howe
    … when asked why he was wearing the athletic cup protector, but not the helmet.

  17. I had a concussion with a broken skull when I was five and got run over by a car, six weeks in the hosp while my skull healed. When I wanted to play football at 14 in high school, my family doctor warned me that one more concussion and I could be a vegetable. I played anyhow because of the testosterone levels, lol. So, at least, my doctor knew and enunciated the risks to myself and my parents. That was 1964.
    For him to say that, as a teenager, he would not have played is disingenuous. Teenagers are “ten foot tall and bulletproof” and “It will not happen to me.” Besides that, the “glory” of being a successful “jock” attracts girls.

  18. Sad for him, hopefully he gets better. With that being said, No One forced him to play or paraglide. We all make our own choices and have to live them.

  19. knownbutunkown says:

    Unfortunately the league didn’t disclose all the risk factors back then..
    ==========================================================

    They didn’t have to because everyone has always known, unless they have an IQ of 4. Staubach retired in 1980 because of concussions.

  20. Boxers could get brain damage from blows to the head. Why would anyone think football players would not?

  21. Don’t know Mr. Widmer, but I strongly suspect he’s being disingenuous when he says that he’d have done everything differently if he’d been warned at 14 about where years of playing football would lead him healthwise as I’m guessing he would have ignored such warnings and simply kept doing something he enjoyed anyway. Probably wouldn’t have been overly polite in regards to such a warning either. Just sayin’. Also, accept the damn HOF’s invitation and be gracious about it, their offer to honor your career, whether you regret it or not, and the deleterious effects you ultimately suffered from playing football are separate and unconnected issues for the most part. I grasp the notion of his feeling somewhat guilty if some kid views his plaque and is perhaps inspired to be just like him someday in terms of being a great football player, but the reality is that inspiring others, while a potential component, is not really the point of any HOF-type organization or facility, within sports or otherwise.

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