Marvin Lewis says the most tone-deaf thing about concussions

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In case you ever wondered why concussions are now handled by independent doctors on the sidelines instead of teams, well, Marvin Lewis is why.

Via the Cincinnati Enquirer, the Bengals coach gave a remarkably insensitive and tone-deaf answer when asked Wednesday if he had concern for linebacker Vontaze Burfict as a human being considering the number of concussions he’s endured.

Well, he had a concussion against Atlanta,” Lewis said of their Sept. 14 game. “That’s that biggest concern that way. You don’t want him to have, you know, but again I coached defenses and linebackers for a long time and concussions didn’t linger. Now we have found that because of the media and things they seem to linger longer. There’s a lot of attention paid to it. I don’t know why they linger longer. I don’t remember them lingering like they do now.”


So to recap, media attention has made head trauma more serious than it used to be. Got it.

Thanks Marvin. Remind me never to let my son play for you.

Actually, his remarks shine some light on the strides made in concussion treatment. In years past — before the media made head trauma more serious than it used to be — people like Lewis would have been in charge of determining whether a player was fit to continue.

Now, having independent neurologists there to take that responsibility away from them has made the players, if not the game, safer.

If it were some hard-head rookie coach, some wannabe drill sergeant, you’d almost understand it. But this is a guy with a decade in the league as a head coach, and a member of the league’s competition committee.

Frankly, he should know better.

82 responses to “Marvin Lewis says the most tone-deaf thing about concussions

  1. Honestly concussions are being blamed for EVERY bad thing a player does anymore, and have scientists ever studied an athlete’s brain and NOT found evidence of CTE? How many of us non-athletes, if studied, would have some trace of it as well? Look it’s good the league is trying to look out for player safety more but I do believe there is an element of media-driven hysteria about concussions.

  2. Doesn’t the NFL provide education and training for these men? I think he should be fined for spreading falsehoods.

    If you can be fined for criticizing the refs even when they make a bad call, why cant a coach be fined for spreading what amounts to dangerous misinformation??

  3. Fine him. Then backtrack, 4game suspension. No, this is so bad he should be banned from the game. Not just this game, ALL games. All sports. In fact, is there a colony on Mars where we can ship these… these… people who don’t think and speak like they should? Lethal injection? How dare he! We. Must. Get. This. Right!

  4. Nick Roach is a linebacker for the Raiders got a concussion in the preseason and was placed on season ending IR. Concussions are serious and should be treated as such.

  5. Marv doesn’t remember concussions lingering. Matter of fact he isn’t sure if there were concussions back in the day. He’s surprised some times to see players wearing helmets. When did that happen?

  6. The longer Lewis coaches the Bengals the longer they will go without winning a playoff game much less get to the SB.

  7. Well he does a point that the media does seem to force a bunch of crap on people. To think our country was built on the first amendment just for the media to abuse it.

  8. I couldn’t agree more with Marvin. It’s a violent sport. Some guys get there bell rung, some guys don’t. Some guys have lingering affects, some don’t. The league has now painted every head blow with the same brush. I guy with a sprained ankle might miss a week or 6 depending on the severity. Let the player judge when he can come back. It’s his body, he knows it best. I would not allow some neurologist tell me how I’m feeling.

  9. The only coaches more over rated than this guy are Jeff Fisher, Mike Holmgren, Lovie Smith and Mike Tomlin.

  10. One day perhaps the media and those they cover or otherwise report on, promote, or interview will realize that without each other they will be irrelevant.

  11. Well I think it’s true. Teams pretend that it takes longer to clear players so you guys wont hang them for not sitting them longer….

    2 years ago, a player would be cleared on Monday. If they clear them that quick now, you’ll write an article questioning the coaches decision.

  12. Coming from a Bengals fan … This is really embarrassing. Thanks Marvin! Way to be ignorant. I was hoping we could get more negative press today.

  13. Frankly, coaches should know better than to say anything at all whatsoever to the media about any subject at this point.

  14. So Marvin, you’re saying a concussion is what made Vontaze Burfict blatantly try to injure 2 players in the same game after they were already tackled and on the ground by twisting their legs and ankles?

  15. C’mon man, it ain’t the media, it is the law suits over concussions. How much are the NFL owners paying out? You that money is killing those guys!

  16. It’s scary to realize just how uninformed some of the NFL’s head coaches are even with the increased emphasis on player safety and concussion protocol. Marvin Lewis obviously doesn’t realize or want to accept the fact that long term damage can occur from concussions. What a shame!

  17. I’m a life long bengals fan, and someone who thinks the game has gotten a little powder puff over the years with all the rules about defenseless receivers and quarterback protection. But this is ridiculous. I think Vontaze should have gotten suspended to protect himself from his head coach. He had concussions in back to back games, and had to be taken to the locker room vs Carolina after a hit to his head.

    He is clearly NOT ok. As much as I want him to play, the kid needs to protect himself. I was leery of him being back so soon, and now I’m genuinely concerned.

    Marvin, the brain is a delicate thing, and as much as I miss the days of Howie long close lining people, your wrong on this one.

  18. In my 46 years I have had seven confirmed concussions (from football, traffic accidents and a couple of accidents at home) and they have caused some very nasty long term affects. I have a chronic pain syndrome that occurred following a fall in which my brain thinks I’m still hurt. Its been 6 1/2 years. I have short term memory loss, severe migraines, damage to my vision, night terrors, facial drooping, the list goes on and on.

    Marvin Lewis is a moron. His opinion on the subject proves his lack of intelligence regarding the subject as well as the closed-mindedness of many in the NFL. A simple concussion can devastate a person and stacking them one upon another can be catastrophic.

    What a pinhead.

  19. It is not his job to worry about concusions that take his players off the feild last I checked.

    It is still a business.

  20. Big deal. He’s right about them lingering in the media. But what about all the players that come out and say that they hide concussions to stay in the game?

  21. When you were young and crazy and enjoying life, time seemed to fly by. But now that you’re the head coach of the Bengals even a few minutes seems like an eternity.

  22. Isn’t this the type of honesty that we want from players/coaches? Marvin’s comments weren’t “ideal” but they were genuine. His comments come from his experiences as a coach. If anything, it shows how the league has progressed by taking away the coaches in decisions regarding concussions and other injuries.

  23. Actually, they haven’t changed. You’ve just lost the ability to say As long as you’re close on how many fingers I am holding up and your headache is mostly gone, get back in there!’

  24. “There’s a lot of attention paid to it. I don’t know why they linger longer. I don’t remember them lingering like they do now.”

    The key phrase is “I don’t remember”.

  25. It’s a good thing you guys are so anal about this. I mean, half of the people I knew growing up are now walking vegetables because of all of the concussions they got playing pop warner.

    Oh, wait, that’s not true at all

    How about grown men with freedom of choice, choose what to do with their own body?

    Nah, as always, big brother knows better

  26. Did Taze actually hurt them though? What about the Steelers who have a history of actually attacking and injuring players with blind side cheap hits. Where were all the calls for suspension then? Let me know when one of Taze’s middle school wrestling love debilitates someone.

    Until then, child please

  27. I heard him make a similar tone deaf comment last week during an interview on Sirius XM NFL Radio.

    He basically said that the concussion issue is the result of media hype and that the worst part about it is that the team physicians and the players seem to be buying into the hype.

  28. “cobrala2 says:
    Oct 15, 2014 1:13 PM
    They linger more because new information came to light, man.”

    I’m pretty sure they linger just the same as last year, 10 years ago and 50 years ago. The effects do not depend on information, come on. We just know better about the effects of them over time instead of just asking players if they remember their name and assuming everything is fine if they do.

  29. CTE: Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy. Marvin sounds like he’s never heard of it, even though HOF center Mike Webster–homeless and living out of his truck after being diagnosed with CTE– urinated into his own oven, used super glue on his rotting teeth, and would zap himself unconscious with a taser gun just to get some sleep. And Marvin’s not the only coach to have a deaf ear on this disease.

  30. Also broke players that couldn’t manage their finances are jumping on bandwagon. They were rich and now broke, that’s a reason they commit suicide, like Junior Seau.

  31. Something that makes more sense now but in a bad way… he actually was removed from the ATL game by a ref for possible concussion before the one he’s referring to. He took a hit to the head and was stumbling trying to walk after but somehow got cleared to return only to have it happen again. I was rather surprised they let him return after that 1st one and again that no one seemed to pick up on that when there’s all this emphasis on safety.

  32. This was taken out of context. When he referred to media he meant the medical facts about concussions and the lingering effects they have on a players health. He also referred to concussions as keeping players out of the lineup longer now than in the past. Listen to the whole sound clip and watch the video.


  34. If you guys only listened to half of the crap this guy says during press conferences you’d be amazed. He’s an arrogant jerk who has complete disdain for media and makes it well known. He treats everyone in the room as if they’re the dumbest pieces of dirt on earth. But then he’s a soft, deer-in-the-headlights coach on the field who claps and smiles when the team f’s up. I can’t wait until he’s gone so we can, you know, actually go past the first round in the playoffs. As long as he’s here, we’ll never win anything significant.

  35. It does seem like all of a sudden, about 3 or 4 years ago, every single big hit nowadays, especially on WRs, results in the WR laying there as if he got shot for minutes.

    You never used to see that back in the day, at least not every single time like it is now.

  36. You know what bothers me? All this media crap about concussions. I’ve had like 12 of them, and they’re honestly no big deal. Man up…but you know what bothers me? The media making a huge deal about concussions. I’ve probably had about a dozen and there are zero side effects at all. You tell em Marvin! Seriously though, the thing that bugs me the most is all this concussion propaganda from the media. I mean I’ve probably had 12-14 of them, and I am fiiiiiiine. Relax people, and stop being pansies. Seriously though whats the deal with the media making a big deal about concussions!? It’s such a crock. I’ve had like 15 of them, and I lead a healthy life…

    …wait what are we talking about?

  37. The Cincinnati media is painfully easy on Marvin. If he were in a different market, we would all be amazed by his answers. I wish for once he would be asked the tough questions. This guy hasnt had to worry about losing his job and you can tell. There is no sense of urgency and he still doesnt fix issues that linger until they ultimately destroy the team which has happened year after year.

  38. If Cincy media asks him a tough question, he laughs and says I’m not even going to answer that. Then that reporter suddenly gets their press pass removed. Ask Chick Ludwig about that. He used to be the only one who’d drill Marvin with questions. Now he’s not allowed back in press conferences anymore. Bengals protect Marvin. He mocks the media during press conferences. Always sure to remind them how stupid they are or how little media and fans know about this sport.

  39. My son plays rugby and he got a concussion last spring. I swear to god it gave licence to everyone in the extended family to share with me their opinion about the appropriateness of allowing your children to play a contact sport.

    Oh well. Be maybe one more generation before the only sports that boys will be allowed to play are on their Madden machines. That will make for a much healthier society I suppose.

    And Coach Lewis will be a dinosaur, someone studied in anthropology.

  40. MikeisWise says:
    Oct 15, 2014 1:51 PM
    Did Taze actually hurt them though? What about the Steelers who have a history of actually attacking and injuring players with blind side cheap hits.
    Yeah…and Marvin Lewis is a big part of that history. Did you forget he spent his first 4 years there? The worst offender was Greg Lloyd, and Marvin was his position coach.

  41. I kind of agree with Lewis. The PC liberal media will be all over a team if they bring back a player and they get reinjured. Of course the media is going to be all over this when it means nothing.

  42. Oh Marvin, Marvin, Marvin……….loved you as the Ravens D-Coordinator, but really……

  43. the league is forced to take this paternalistic approach because a bunch of broke players don’t know the meaning of the word accountability, not unlike a lot of other Americans.. when you have a sport where massive men collide at full speed, the risk of severe injury is assumed. If a player wants to play with a broken arm, sprained knee or a head injury, it’s his prerogative’s no different than boxing, MMA, etc.. they’re paid big money to sacrifice their bodies for our entertainment.

  44. Umm, they always lingered this long, but now there’s science to show how much they linger.

    Asked a follow-up question about concussions during his playing days, coach Lewis was heard to remark “I can’t really remember; I had a number of concussions.”

  45. If you told Marvin that concussions don’t linger he would tell you that they do and you don’t deserve to be talking to him. This guy disagrees with everyone and talks down to everyone (including some of the veteran former bengals that cover the team). he’s reight we are all wrong. Period.

  46. Media isn’t the cause for the change. The NFL Retired Players Concussion law suit has been the reason for the change in awareness of the issue.

  47. He means they don’t linger physically, like a hamstring or ankle injury would. Players can’t play football 7 days after spraining an ankle because it LINGERS. Players can play football 7 days after a concussion. The only time players are held out longer than that is because the coaches are being “cautious” i.e. they don’t want to have to deal with the media second-guessing them.

  48. It’s quite obvious Bengal upper management all suffer from CTE; only way to explain the tenure of Lewis.

  49. I agree with Steelers/Marching. We watch football for the contact. Period. Who Badest Wins. Concussions are part of it. Players know this.


    Attention, all head coaches and coordinators: There will be a mandatory seminar next Tuesday on interacting with media representatives. Your presenter will be Bill Belichick.

  51. I used to think Marvin Lewis was a good guy and coach. Now I know he’s a blithering idiot.

    Mike Brown: Fire this guy while you still have living beings on your team.

  52. I’m not a Lewis fan or fan of the team, but I think he just misspoke. It seems to me he was saying that increased awareness has made concussions and time away from the game as a result more common. He’s right. And the media has a lot to do with that, which is good.

  53. Shoulda just put Florio’s name on the tag line since once again this is just another anti Bengal article.
    I know we are out numbered by other teams, but this site has gone from just a good up to date site, to an all out attack on certain teams.
    Patriots, employed mass murderers(Hernandez), and even signed a convicted homicide felon(Stallworth).
    Browns had that homicide felon on their roster(Stallworth).
    9ers play a accused domestic assault on a pregnant woman.
    Panthers employed a killer who hid in trunk(Carruth) to avoid detection, and tried to keep playing a convicted domestic violence employee (Hardy)
    But please lets do more articles on Burfict twisting ankles (oooooh should go to jail for that), or the head coach talking about concussions on a player who by league policy was held out 3 weeks.

  54. Personally, I don’t like Marvin Lewis. He’s not a good coach like some idiots say he is. 5 one and done’s in the playoffs are not acceptable on any level whatsoever and he should get shown the door if the Bengals do that again.

    But to a certain degree, I see what he’s saying about the media attention. I think there should be greater precautions taken when it comes to concussion awareness, and if Burfict keeps having issues, the Bengals should take great care before rushing him back in. At the same time though, some of the paranoia about concussions has gone way over the top and needs to be stopped. The league should take safety to a certain degree, but not to flag football degrees.

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