Richard Sherman: I played through a concussion and it paid off


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 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.

62 responses to “Richard Sherman: I played through a concussion and it paid off

  1. “All of us NFL players, from wide receivers to defensive backs, chose this profession,” Sherman writes.

    There is the key part of the whole article.

  2. Richard Sherman isn’t too bright.

    Whether you choose a profession or not, to risk more severe head trauma and potentially death to be on the field during/immediately after a concussion is stupid.

  3. young people tend to make short term decisions without paying much attention to the future ramifications. Football players are no different.

  4. I admire his courage playing through a concussion (and subsequently helping his team) but players need to realize that there’s life after football.

    Any injury (especially head, neck and spinal cord) have to be protected. He’s fortunate that he didn’t get injured again, something far worse could have happened.

  5. I actually gained a lot of respect for Sherman after this article. He’s right. You know the risks going into the game, you should have ultimately have the decision to continue playing or not.

  6. I disagree with Sherman here. He made an individual decision that affected the team. Players shouldn’t play with concussions so that they can pad stats or build reputations. He not only put himself in danger but who knows if his play was really all that great before his interception.

    The NFL is trying to set an example and I agree with it. Football players play years of football before they reach the age where they can become professionals and very very few actually do. I don’t want to see kids out there imitating Sherman and potentially impacting the rest of their lives negatively, it’s stupid.

  7. I’m a Dolphins fan, but I respect the hell out of Richard Sherman.

    Blue collar worker with white collar mentality and integrity. No complaints. Just does his job.

  8. Richard its an old school brave concept and I have ho doubt most football players feel this same way. I love you man but that was a stupid thing to put out there in public because its puts Seahawks under a microscope with the NFL. Now if one of him teammates get hurt whether its neck or upperbody you don’t think they will be having an eye on the team after something like this goes out there.

  9. That’s fine and dandy for now, however when this man is 50 with mental trouble he will try to sue the pants off of the NFL. I have no respect for this kind of attitude because it is the reason the NFL is like the way it is today.

  10. I am sure this letter will be featured prominently by the NFL in their defense against any future concussion lawsuit. Many players have no regard for their own safety, even though the NFL is trying to protect them.

  11. It was actually a very well written article and if you haven’t read the whole thing then you probably shouldn’t be commenting. I like how he brings up the Merryweather and Chancellor hits and says how they would’ve been highlights back in the day but now they’re just ridiculous fines and penalties.

  12. Oh please, the NFL is trying to set an example because they were sued. Watch the PBS documentary and your opinion of the NFL will change quickly.

  13. Bengals 34 Seattle 12 congrats on your 1st pick…lol of course the game would be different now and depending on location may be a different turn out but it will be close…

  14. Here’s the thing: the guy whose sole job it is to wait around and target other players for hits doesn’t get to say what is and isn’t an acceptable amount of physical risk.

    It’s the protection of the most vulnerable players that sets the baseline, not the opinions of those who are least at risk.

  15. This is quite possibly my favorite article ever written by a player, particularly on this subject. I always appreciated Sherman for his game, now I appreciate him for his opinion, almost all of which I agree with.

  16. I don’t really like Sherman much, but I found this article refreshingly honest. He’s just saying out loud what a lot of players, maybe even the majority, think in private. Of course, if he is still saying it 10 years after retiring, when he himself is suffering from the after-effects of concussions, then I would have even more respect.

  17. At least NFL players get paid outrageous sums of money for risking their bodies and health, what about soldiers, cops, firefighters who risk their bodies and health but get paid regular wages? I think NFL players should not be allowed to sue, no matter how crippled they end up. Don’t tell me you played through high school, college, and in the NFL and had no idea you might be injured. You signed the contract, you put on the jersey, you cashed the checks, so you pay the price.

  18. I admire this guy. Not only is he honest, but he is one heckuva ballplayer. I can’t stand the Seahawks, but really like Sherman. He backs up his mouth with the way he plays

    That is why I am against the Concussion lawsuit filed by players, both former and prsent. As long as I have been watching football, eveyone knew it was a violent sport

  19. tjacks7 says: Oct 24, 2013 9:57 AM

    does this guy ever give his mouth a rest?
    He was asked a question. He answered it, and you have a problem with that?

    I guess you want the standard monotone, robotic and politically correct BS response that most players give.

    He’s well educated, well spoken, and speaks his mind, and it seems you do not like that.

  20. Sherman has so many haters on this thing but he is literally saying everything that a majority of comments say on every single concussion post. You’re all just blinded by your bias against a guy that says exactly what we do and is one hell of a football player at the same time.

  21. The league really doesn’t care one way or the other about player safety and health. All they care about is 1.) not getting sued by people like Richard Sherman who talk bravely now but won’t see the wisdom in their words 20 years from now, and 2.) making sure parents keep letting their athletic kids grow up and play football so the cash cow stays nice and fat.

  22. I love how pretty much every comment says he’ll sue the nfl in a few years. in the article, if you were to have read it, you would see that he was against suing the league. hell, even the quotes posted in this article showed that. I’m not a seahawks fan, quite the opposite actually: I am a 49ers fan who cannot stand most of the seahawks. However, Richard Sherman is one of my favorite football players. He speaks his mind and he doesn’t care what anybody thinks. If he were to go to a bill belicheck type interview, everyone would say he is just a mindless and stupid football player who doesn’t have a single rational thought. I love how strong the confirmation bias in these comment sections. A lot think concussions are the worst thing ever and the NFL are terrible people for not protecting NFL players, but then when an NFL player himself says “We chose this profession” you guys act like he is the worst person ever? the same guys you say you want the NFL to protect in one breath you are bashing in the next breath?

    One comment I saw, from the poster kevpft said “the guy whose sole job it is to wait around and target other players for hits doesn’t get to say what is and isn’t an acceptable amount of physical risk.” so you mean to tell me that defensive backs get to have no opinion if it isn’t an opinion that supports you? What about the running backs and wide receivers that lower their helmets in order to get those extra yards? You see it on almost every play and it poses a tremendous concussion risk. look at the Jermichael Finley play. The player led with his shoulder, yet was flagged because finley lowered his head. If he wasn’t trying to tackle right, he would’ve probably been laying on the ground right next to finley, and sharing a room in the ICU. So, defensive backs get to have no opinion when you can see on almost every play that the offensive players are just as bad?

  23. It isn’t Richard ” Doug E Doug” Sherman’s fault that former players are getting greedy and they see a chance to cash in. If you as a player want to play and assume the risk (which he clearly does) then the NFL needs a waiver for players to sign.

  24. How did it “pay off” exactly? Didn’t they lose the game? So he got a pick in a game they lost, and that was worth it? How about the two quarters he played “blind and woozy”? Maybe if he had taken himself out of the game and his back up played, they may have won. To me this just shows that he is a “me” player, didn’t do what was best for the team, and he’s proud of that. Also, if I’m one of his teammates I would hope he wouldn’t ignore it if he knew I was playing concussed. He may not care about his future and choose to play through what could be a long term injury, but I wouldn’t want him making that decision for me. SMDH.

  25. Sherman is an overated tard…he’s T.O. playing defense. Shut your mouth and play the average football you play. ..
    How many times has earl thomas saved you this year??
    I get a concussion jus seeing and listening to his B.S.on tje screen

  26. spfootballfan:

    You ask a fair question. I didn’t suggest that defensive players shouldn’t have *any* say, or that they are not at risk. My point is that some positions have less risk than others, and risk and protection should be set based on the most vulnerable positions. That may result in protection that some feel is too much in some cases, but I think the players’ health is more important than highlight-reel hits.

    Anyway, if players these days would actually wrap up and tackle more, instead of taking the more cowardly (and dangerous) route of launching themselves into each other for knockout blows, there would be less of a problem.

  27. I don’t disagree that there is too much hype over this damn concussion issue but for someone who is considered a “star” and therefor has a lot of kids looking up to him as a role model, he is setting a horrible example by being so candid about his stubbornness to come out of a game from a possible concussion. The guy loves to talk a lot but 25 years down the road when he can’t remember all the nonsensical crap he spews on a regular basis he too will be lined up with a bunch of other stubborn hot headed players looking to get paid via class action lawsuit against the NFL. We get it, you think you are tough. But the problem is you are also putting an irresponsible notion in the moldable minds of children. I know it’s out of Richard Sherman’s character, but he should really think before he speaks.

  28. If his teammate had concussion symptoms I hope Sherman at least warned him. It’s one thing to not go run and tell the trainer, but at least let the poor schmuck know he’s not actually Batman.

  29. Problem is, many like minded players will take matters into their own hands, use the helmet as a weapon and justify it by saying `that’s the way i’ve always played and besides, they knew what they were getting into when they took this job’.

    Not all players are cool like Sherman.

  30. So if he ends up with a few more at the end of his career and can’t play any longer, he won’t be suing the league for his post career head issues then right? I mean this is what he signed up for…

  31. If I’m not mistaken, this game might have been Sherman’s first NFL start. The whole reason he was even starting was because Trufant got hurt and then Walter Thurmand got hurt. This was his opportunity and he wasn’t going to let that slip away. So, you ask again, did it pay off? I think so.

  32. I look forward to paying for his convalescence, beginning at age 40.

    For someone lauded for his ‘intelligence,’ he never really seems to demonstrate any. He’s actually suggesting that the person who has just suffered a “traumatic brain injury” should be the person who decides whether that person is fit to continue in the activity that caused the injury. And, mental patients should be tasked with assessing their own sanity.

  33. Truth be known, the NFL has an interest in keeping injured players off the field – and it’s not just player safety. While individual teams surely want to know if a player is too injured to contribute and avoid losses, the NFL also provides medical care and injury benefits to injured active players PLUS health insurance, pensions and other benefits to retired players. It all costs money and your second concussion will be more expensive to treat than your first. Retired players may also need extensive and life long care for post-concussive symptoms. The NFLPA negotiated all these benefits for Richard and his peers. Maybe Richard wants to forgo all those benefits and his membership in the NFLPA so he can chose to play injured as he see fits – or maybe he doesn’t.

  34. People are injured and killed daily doing their jobs all over this country. All risk CANNOT be removed from any physical endeavor. Work on a freight dock for a while, any factory work presents myriad dangers both immediate and long term. Fireman? Policeman? Logger? And yes folks, truth of the matter is that you will not live forever!! Deal with it…Accept responsibility for your life choices. If concussions freak you out, by all means avoid them! DO NOT ask others to avoid them for you! What a candy arse society we have become. A dude much brighter than me once said something like “A coward dies a thousand times, a brave man but once”. I may not be brave but I do choose “once”.

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