Chris Conte: I’d rather play in the NFL and die 10-15 years earlier

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Bears safety Chris Conte has suffered a back injury, two concussions, a shoulder injury and an eye injury this season. And he says he’s OK with that.

Conte told WBBM in Chicago that playing football means so much to him that he’s willing to do it even if it’s bad for his long-term health.

“I’d rather have the experience of playing in the NFL and die 10 to 15 years earlier than not play in the NFL and have a long life,” he said. “I don’t really look toward my life after football. I’ll figure things out when I get there. As long as I outlive my parents.”

Conte’s point of view actually isn’t much different from that of people in all walks of life who say they’d rather enjoy the years they have than delay death as long as possible. Some people enjoy skiing, some people enjoy rock climbing, some people enjoy eating junk food. All of those things have health risks, but if a consenting adult chooses to accept the risk, who’s to tell him he shouldn’t?

But what Conte may not realize is that the risks associated with playing in the NFL are more about quality of life in old age than about taking years off life. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “On average, NFL players are actually living longer than the average American male.”

What Conte and all NFL players should weigh is the risk of injuries suffered on the football field affecting them later in life. Conte probably will live to be a senior citizen, and he will probably want to be not just alive but healthy when he’s 60, 70 or 80. Conte says in his 20s that the enjoyment he gets out of playing football makes the risk worth it. I hope he says the same when he’s in his 80s.

66 responses to “Chris Conte: I’d rather play in the NFL and die 10-15 years earlier

  1. Glory comes every Sunday for these guys. Its a drug. When you make a play and the crowd roars, there’s nothing else on earth that will give you that feeling. Even more if its a crucial play in a moment that will decide the game.

  2. Chris Conte lawyer: My clients brain injuries prevented him from knowing what was actually happening so his comments are meaningless. We will be suing the NFL for injuries sustained during his career.

  3. I agree w/ him; carpe diem, live for today. A guy I work with in our warehouse has had both knees replaced and another lady just had her hip done. You can’t stop father time so enjoy your youth and make as much as you can.

  4. And that decision is his responsibility to make. And how educated (or not) about that decision he becomes is also his choice and responsibility.

    Just don’t ask the 2014 american legal system….

  5. Absolutely. As an NFL fan, this is good to hear– the game needs players to be accountable for their own safety. This is a “play at your own risk” type of deal, players are paid millions but they know that when they step on to the field they could face permanent injury or even death. The NFL could even require each player to sign a waiver acknowledging this prior to every game.

    If such a waiver existed, would any current player quit? I highly doubt it. Plus, it would put an end to all this “will football still exist in 30 years?” BS. So many in the media– some who even cover the game for a living– have pushed this anti-football agenda for the past few years– “we shouldn’t like this game, it isn’t right”– that type of thing. It needs to end, and a position like Conte is taking– “yeah, it may affect my long-term health, so what? you only live once”– is perfect. Good on you, Chris Conte

  6. Lol me to being old sucks anyways. I wish I played in the NFL. Chris I’m sorry but your career will end soon. I don’t know how you have a job I’m not hating I call it how I see it

  7. Even if you are not that good of a player and play 4 years and make $2.5 mil. How many of you would take that job for 4 years and make $2.5.
    Answer is ALL OF YOU.

  8. “I’d rather wear out than rust out.”

    Me too.

    And Braveheart. “Every man dies. Not every man really lives.”

    Might die tomorrow. You never know. You do what you can, when you can, and let the chips fall where they may.

  9. It one breath it’s OK for adults to do as they wish and enjoy live to the fullest and in the next adults that happen to play in the NFL should consider not playing in the NFL because they could lose thier minds when they are old? I just don’t get it anymore.

  10. Judging by the stiff arm I saw him take by Fred Jackson, he may literally shorten his life on the field.

    He’s become the answer to a trivia question and the cornerstone of Fred Jackson’s highlight tape.

    Five years after he’s done, he’ll be first in line crying for more benefits for retired players. Maybe he never recovered from that stiff arm jolt.

  11. That’s pretty disturbing. He has two games left as a Bear and after they let him go I doubt anybody else picks him up, so the decision may not be in his hands. The sad part is, if that really is the way his mind is working, the damage has already probably begun.

  12. Wow. This should give every NFL fan pause. It’s his choice and he’s rationalizing it, but it’s scary to think someone who’s had such serious injuries would be willing to risk his health and very life for our enjoyment and for the shine of an NFL career and some cash.

    Again, it’s his choice, but to potentially put his future life at risk for a league that will eventually leave him behind and probably fail to acknowledge his ailments is sobering and just sad to me.

  13. He says that now, but in 20 years he’ll be suing the NFL to pay for his long term health care.

  14. His life his choice but it’s by far one of the dumbest comments I’ve ever heard. Not surprised though because this guy has had almost double digit concussions!

  15. Quality of live vs. quantity of life. This assessment is made by each individual based on their own discretion. And thus, policy should not withhold one’s opportunity to enjoy said quality of life for the sake of ensuring that the whole of society is “guaranteed” quantity of life. For folks like Conte and myself, it is not my wish to spend my final years of life rotting in a facility when I had the fiscal opportunity to enjoy a quality of life, but was taxed and unable to do so.

    Deal with it. My values should not be infringed upon the values of others. My values do not inhibit your values. Liberty must prevail.

  16. Even is they die 10-15 years earlier. Their quality of life before that. The mountain of money, the vacations they can take, the toys they can play with, makes it worth it.

    Us blue collar workers, work our tails off for YEARS to afford nice things in life. to just take a good vacation. To afford college for our kids. We work till we are OLD. Then we have a few years left in retirement where we struggle with little $$$ from Social Security.

    just basic Risk vs Reward.

    You can have health problems being a mechanic, doing construction, sitting behind a desk all day.

    Might as well play a game! get paid Millions and Party like its 1999!!!

  17. Every driver that straps in to a car in motorsports faces much more possible severe consequences every time. We don’t run around shocked that they do so. It’s part of the sport you have to deal with. Conte’s comments aren’t much different, it’s a choice he makes willingly.

  18. I have to agree with Conte on this one. As one who watched old age and Alzheimer’s slowly sap the life out of two very close family members and drain them into basically human raisins, I can sympathize with him. On the other hand, will he turn into a raisin as well, just sooner?

    Either way, as long as his family is in agreement with his understand the ramifications of the money/life style they’ll enjoy trumps years they could spend together, then who are we to say? Some people don’t understand the Uber athletes mentality. These are highly driven people that want to succeed and be the best. At some point time will catch up with you.

  19. @dalfanforever NFL as a whole and in the spot light does have a lot of programs for retired / injured players. And more being setup due to litigation. But still there is help out there. And making a Ship load of money should go a long way…

    How much do you think the rest of America Employers really care about their employees healthy – injuries and QUALITY of life!

    Not many. There is a bottom line for businesses. And they leave all the health care in the hands of health ins and Workers Comp. Haslame Flying J trucks probably doesn’t have a special fund to give Drivers $$$$ for years after their careers and Quality of life is cut short due to stressful demands of truck driving.

    I for one think all these sports stars and clebs get paid Way too much! But the owners are making a Large SHIP Load of $$$$ and its the Players we pay to see. Its Marketing, its Cant Miss, its our distraction from all the Crap in the world. So as a whole I think theres way too much $$$$$ in there but that’s Supply and Demand. So cant hate on them for that. That is society issue. We consume it, and want it. They provide it.

    Since Ancient Rome the best Gladiators got famous and rich. We always search for an outlet after a hard week of work.

  20. dont know if i would or not, im only in my early 3os, but i think id probably take that trade off.

    in todays day though i dont see it shortening ones life that much. i think there will be changes in the next 10years that will see most of these guys live a lot longer;

    walking is a different case – probably see some of these guys hobbling around soon, but i could never get my weight up to 300+ so that doesnt really matter. and honestly whether orlando pace played in NFL or not he’ll still die early AND hobble around. better get paid than just be a regular dude with serious health problems.

    also, that is why i love football, you wont ever see a basketball or baseball player saying that or trying that.


  21. It may sound morbid, but being an NFL player is not the only occupation in which there may be an expectation of one’s life being cut short by years.

    How about firemen? The risks they take every day are obvious. Maybe not as obvious: coal miners. These guys work in the mines and will almost certainly have their lives cut short from black lung. It’s not even a risk. It’s a known fact for them, but still, they have to feed their families.

    Playing in the NFL has always had a big risk of serious injury. Playing American football at any level carries risks as well. It is a risk assumed by those who, for their own reasons, accept and go on.

  22. Who cares what Conte thinks/knows/wants/believes ? All that high level important stuff ought be left up to the lawyers and politicians to decide.

  23. My grandmother lived to be 95. Truth be told, it didn’t look like very much fun to me.

    I’m 56 now, and the **LAST** thing I want is to live long enough to be gumming my applesauce in some decrepit old folks home, listening to the mindless screaming and yelling of others who have lived well into dementia. I’m with you on this one, Chris Conte!

  24. I know what you are trying to do here, Chris, and it’s not working. No one thinks the Bears defense is tough, and your comment won’t change that.

  25. The guy is sooooo right. It is much better to have an exciting life, a fun life, than to live long and pain free.

    Played sports all my life. Still playing basketball at 50+. Done a lot of active adventurous things in my life.

    Hurt very morning I get up. I’m stiff and it takes a while to get lossened up.

    But it was worth it.

    I’ve got great memories, stories to tell and things I’ve accomplished. Eveything worth doing comes with s price.

    I’ve never had the privilege to walk out of the tunnel to 60,000 screaming fans. I can’t even imagine what that would be like. If only just once I could, I’d gladly pay the price.

    When my time comes and my life flashes before my eyes my best non-loved ones memories are not going to be a title on a business card or a video game score.

    He’s right. To do what you love the most is worth the price.

    Only people with adventure in their souls don’t understand that.

  26. Love the people who are trying to disagree with this comment and saying “we’ll see if you say that when you’re older”. Stop tyring to pretend you can relate. You cant. You never played in the NFL. Neither did I. But you know what? If I could have, I’d be okay with 15 less years too. You’re talking about accomplishing something so many aspire to an never come even close to achieving.

    Get off your high horses.

  27. The problem is he will feel differently once his career ends most likely.

    It’s easy to say you would accept a shorter life, but ask most 80 year olds if 81 is a good age to die. They won’t think so.

  28. My only goal is to live at least one day longer than my lousy ex-employer, who owes me a pension, thinks I’m gonna last.

  29. Kid’s got heart. He may not cover very well, or tackle very well, but he’s got heart. There’s a few guys out there with talent that could be really great if they had his passion. And you wouldn’t have to leave Halas Hall to find them.

  30. But Chris, remember, the liberal commies who really don’t do much but talk and whine, they will tell you how long you should want to live, how you should feel about it right now, and how you should live your life and what you believe in. What is wrong with you having your own beliefs and freedom? Disgusting.

    We will have out lawyers contact you to straighten you out.

  31. Subtracting 10 to 15 years off your life? That might happen if you’ve been continually taking steroids…..If not, concussions may just make you a little punch drunk when you get older.

    In regard to Conte’s play, I can’t stand him because I see better safeties everywhere. But I do admit that the guy has heart. He’s kind of like a “Rudy”. If only we could have a player with Jay Cutler’s talent and Conte’s heart, then the Bears would actually have a QB they could count on….

  32. Conte is rather average at his job, and will probably continue to play for at least four or five more years. But, if he were to quit after this season, he’s a 25-year-old millionaire who, if he is not stupid, will have lifelong financial security. All because America is a nation of spectators who get vicarious pleasure from watching other people have fun – and he’s one of the guys having the fun.

  33. You realize the American system of taxation is what funds your Liberty, right? If you don’t want to pay taxes, stop using our stuff. Also, you might want to avail yourself of some of the many “free” educational opportunities we offer here.

    As you were.

  34. The most shocking part of this story is that Conte had any concussions in the first place. I’ve seen him play and usually he isn’t even close enough to hit anybody much less hit them hard.

  35. I firmly believe that being a Chiefs fan will also shorten a person’s life by 10 or 15 years, due to excessive drinking, smoking, hand wringing, depression, and diminished will to live.

  36. “I firmly believe that being a Chiefs fan will also shorten a person’s life by 10 or 15 years, due to excessive drinking, smoking, hand wringing, depression, and diminished will to live.”

    Best PFT comment ever. And you could substitute pretty much any other team and it would be just as good.

  37. Yeah because of the money obviously.

    I just suffered a back injury the other day. It’s nothing too serious thankfully. But I was very scared when it first happened.

    I know their injuries are a hell of a lot worse than mine though. I just don’t know if it’s worth the risk for the mega bucks.

  38. Mt guess is that Conte never reads PFT or he would realize he take more hits here than he does when he’s on the field. From what he did say I would guess the damage has already been done but still do wish he would play with a closer cover when he is out there.

  39. I’ve never played organized sports past Jr. High but I think I know exactly what he means particularly since he has made it to the apex of his sport–the NFL. If I could play any sport well enough to have made it to the apex (football, auto racing and boxing included) I would have when you think of the rewards it returns to you the dangers notwithstanding. Money to last a lifetime (if you’re smart), friendships and/or acquaintances you could never have as a 9-5 working stiff, the post career opportunities in broadcasting (TV, radio, web) and don’t forget about the women that make themselves so readily available to even just marginal pro athletes.

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