Bruce Smith admits he’s in daily pain, forgets things sometimes

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At a time when the NFL is only beginning to listen to people who have different ideas about pain management, one of the greatest players of all time offered yet another reminder of why they need to.

Via Tyler Dunne of the Buffalo News, Hall of Fame defensive end Bruce Smith said he has daily reminders of his physical pain, along with moments he’s reminded of the other impacts of nearly two decades of football.

There’s not a day that goes by that I’m not in pain,” Smith said. “Multiple joints and things that I experience on a daily basis. It can be very frustrating sometimes and painful, but I’m very blessed.”

For 19 years, he wreaked havoc on the field, as the NFL’s all-time leader in sacks with 200.0. But that came with a cost to him as well. Smith was blunt and admitted there are times he forgets things, but was generally grateful for the time spent playing the game.

“I’m not one to sit here and complain,” he said. “While I did not know the severity of what continuous head traumas could do to an individual and the mind and so forth, I’m not going to sit here and complain. I’m very blessed to be standing here.”

But when asked if he thought the NFL was being forthcoming with scientific information about concussions, Smith said he wasn’t sure players would ever get the full story.

“For some reason or another, I don’t think we’ll ever get to that,” he said. “But obviously, there’s some light that can be shed on the subject. But for reasons that may be too sensitive, for reasons that may be too damaging, we won’t ever get to that point. However, I do think they’re taking steps to move in the right direction in the protection of players and future players in the present time. But there are some guys who are suffering that we need to make sure are taken care of.”

Some of that help could come in the form of the concussion settlement, which continues to creep closer to reality three years after it was negotiated.

79 responses to “Bruce Smith admits he’s in daily pain, forgets things sometimes

  1. We’ve all heard the comments from NFL players about what a violent sport it is. I first heard them 30 years ago. Comments that relate the collisions that occur on EACH NFL play to the violence of 2 cars in a head on collision.
    Others have spoke to the sole goal of the day after game day being convincing the body to simply walk.

    I have a hard time reconciling those comments (made by NFL players) with the alleged shock, surprise and dismay that their bodies were being damaged.

  2. Greatest NFL player of all time.

    I still have no idea how Jeff Hostetler held onto that ball in the end zone.

  3. Bruce Smith, a great player on the field and a great ambassador of the game off of it. He terrorized O-lineman and QB’s on every snap then helped them up after the whistle. We could use more guys like Bruce Smith in the game

  4. I’m sick of people calling football players overpaid. They have a short career window and then a lifetime of pain and ailment to deal with.

  5. Hey Bruce, I never played in the NFL but we are the same age and guess what…I am in daily pain and sometimes forget things. It’s called getting old. Get used to it.

  6. His comments are pretty lucid and insightful despite his condition. I’d like to see him speak out more in the future.

    He understands the politics of the issue and rightly points out that amid the slow grind of progress, there are guys that need to be taken care of right now.

  7. billswillnevermove says:
    Jun 7, 2016 8:46 AM

    The greatest Buffalo Bill ever to put on the uniform in my opinion.

    ———————————————————

    I think its Scott Norwood, hands down

  8. Not to belittle the overall point as I respect Mr. Smioth and all that he accomplished…. but overall most 52 year olds live in some sort of pain on a day to day basis. It’s usually the joints that go first. Knees, shoulders and you could throw in back and feet as well.
    Some of it is basic: Age + Gravity = ache. And for most of us the wear and tear came form working at our jobs too.
    It’s just we didn’t all become celebrity millionaires in the process.

  9. I still remember the Dennis Hopper Nike commercial, “Do you know what Bruce Smith does in these shoes? Bad things man…..bad things” That really sums it up, was fun to watch as long as he wasn’t doing “Bad things” to my QB.

  10. billswillnevermove says:
    Jun 7, 2016 8:46 AM
    The greatest Buffalo Bill ever to put on the uniform in my opinion.

    ————–
    Not to take anything away from Smith and Legal issues aside, I would have to go with OJ Simpson. But no doubt Smith was a phenomenal player. More importantly he was not a punk and was not out to hurt other guys like many of today’s players

  11. I have a love hate opinion about the guy. Love the way he played and the intensity he did it with.
    Hated that he played that way because the team I root for had to deal with him giving them loss of yards at least a few times a game.

    Hope the best for him going forward. One of the best the game has ever and will ever see. Glad I got to watch him do it on a weekly basis during his career.

  12. Pure class act! I still remember 51-3. lmao

    30 for 30: Four Falls of Buffalo = Greatest show ever made…

  13. Being an alcoholic doesn’t help either.

    He’s had MULTIPLE DUI’s, some well before his playing days were over.

  14. Then why bring it up? unless it was his mother/father – no one outside his family forced him to start playing football at an early age. Once he became an adult he had the CHOICE to pursue another field of employment. Smith can go away.

  15. I am of two minds about this issue. I certainly have sympathy for what these players are facing with their futures, and if the NFL did purposely conceal info they had in their possession about these possible long term side effects, then they should be held accountable on some level.

    On the other hand, I also have daily pain and sometimes forget things, which I attribute to a 25 year rugby career. While I was going through it, I didn’t need anyone to tell me that there was a really good chance that the brutal beating I was taking both on my head and my body was probably going effect my long term health. That seemed pretty obvious to me. I did it anyway, and not for a living but for the love of the game.

    At some point, common sense and personal responsibility have to come into play. You shouldn’t need a orthopedic surgeon to tell you that having 10 surgeries on one knee is probably going to lead to some long term pain and you shouldn’t need a neurosurgeon to tell you that going back into a game after taking such a bad shot to the head that you didn’t know what day it was could come back to haunt you in the future.

  16. “There’s not a day that goes by that I’m not in pain,” Smith said. “Multiple joints and things that I experience on a daily basis. It can be very frustrating sometimes and painful, but I’m very blessed.”

    Gee, welcome to life, Bruce. It’s called getting old. My dad worked at the docks for 10 years and his back & knees are messed up, he’s in his early 50s. Do we sue the company now? I’m really tired of every former pro player who in his 70s feels like he’s not in the same type of shape he was in his 20s and he blames football. It’s ridiculous. Guys who can’t walk anymore at 40 or 50, guys who developed Alzheimer at age 40, whatever, fine, help them, stuff like that shouldn’t happen. But you’re gonna complain at age 60 about joint pain? Are you kidding me?

  17. I’m 50 and am experiencing the same things after an active lifestyle. Too bad I can’t lawyer up and go after someone.

    Enough. Every NFL’er that ever forgot his car keys doesn’t deserve the pity party that’s being thrown their way. Life happens. Lawyers have a way of milking the last drop of decency out of everyone, including a stand up guy like Bruce Smith.

    If you ride the log ride expect to get wet

  18. ValarMorghulis says:
    Jun 7, 2016 8:37 AM
    greatest DE to ever play the game
    *************************************************
    No, greatest Bills DE to ever play the game.

  19. 279 games and 200 sacks, one of the all time greats, and I’m half surprised to see him still able to stand! But Bruce, I can tell you from personal experience that daily pain and a little memory loss is actually quite common for 50-somethings, and many of us have backs that aren’t good enough to take part in charity golf challenges, nor afford your medical care…

  20. Anyone else remember the time he was “Drunk” and fell?

    The specific time and place escapes me right now however my point is, even when these players drink, I can’t imagine the severity of getting “drunk” compared to “normal” people like some of ourselves that don’t play football, let alone as well as this man did. I hope he’ll be okay, saying that of the sense of we all kind of know how this turns out. Sincerely.

  21. I don’t get people jumping all over this as Bruce Smith being a whiner. I thought he was gracious about the whole thing. I am 53 years old, have had six knee surgeries and two foot surgeries, and I have pain every day, too but I doubt my pain is close to what some of these football players experience. They wreck their bodies playing a game we all love. Frankly, they have my gratitude for every Sunday they were on the field.

  22. nhpats says:
    Jun 7, 2016 9:02 AM

    billswillnevermove says:
    Jun 7, 2016 8:46 AM
    The greatest Buffalo Bill ever to put on the uniform in my opinion.

    ————–
    Not to take anything away from Smith and Legal issues aside, I would have to go with OJ Simpson. But no doubt Smith was a phenomenal player. More importantly he was not a punk and was not out to hurt other guys like many of today’s players
    _________________________________
    Good point…..I use to think that too, but after watching Bruce play as long as he did, I would take him over OJ as the greatest Buffalo Bill, but it’s very close.

  23. “Bruce Smith admits he’s in daily pain, forgets things sometimes”

    Welcome to adulthood.

  24. I’m in daily pain and forget things all the time. Never played football. Didn’t make millions.

  25. Saw a piece on TV a while back about Earl Campbell’s struggles after football. Don’t know about his head but his body is just Dee-stroyed.
    Now in fairness, protecting his body from high impact collisions was never part of his game but it gave me an idea of what most of these RBs go through.
    Saw Bettis really struggle to get out of bed once too. On TV though, not in real life. I swear.

  26. the issue with this is that correlation does not equal causation.

    You’re an NFL player. You have aches and pains, and forget things. That’s unfortunate.

    However, as other posters on pft have pointed out, many of us have similar symptoms with no,professional career in football. Why?

    Could be our vocations.
    Could be old age.
    Could be diet.
    Could be orthopedic surgeries we’ve had for other reasons.
    Could be the randomness of the universe.

    I think NFL players have now been given license to blame all aging woes on their pro career. Probably truth to it, but you were also compensated better than most of us.

  27. troylok says:
    Jun 7, 2016 9:40 AM
    I don’t get people jumping all over this as Bruce Smith being a whiner. I thought he was gracious about the whole thing. I am 53 years old, have had six knee surgeries and two foot surgeries, and I have pain every day, too but I doubt my pain is close to what some of these football players experience. They wreck their bodies playing a game we all love. Frankly, they have my gratitude for every Sunday they were on the field.
    =====================

    Exactly, there’s not a whiny word in the piece but there’s already plenty of whining in the comments. I guess there was some part of this:
    “It can be very frustrating sometimes and painful, but I’m very blessed.”
    They did not understand. As a player Smith was a force. The sack numbers don’t come close to telling the story. He was THE guy offenses that played against his team planned for. Four times a season he had to square off against 2 of the better LT’s of the decade in Richmond Webb and Bruce Armstrong. The game within the game between them was something to see. Big props from this Pats fan for Bruce Smith

  28. I am a former firefighter. I suffer from multiple joint pain and have memory loss from being concussed several times. I feel your pain but so what, you chose the profession just like I chose mine. And by the way I didn’t get the money you got.

  29. I still find it hard to believe that football players say they had no idea that they could sustain concussions from playing football.

  30. You know what? I too suffer from pain. Guess should’ve known better to choose the line of work I do. I think I’ll sue my employer.

  31. Nothing but mad respect for Bruce Smith but as far as the daily pain and forgetting things, It’s called getting old. Something we all live with if we’re lucky enough to reach old age.

  32. OJ Simpson only had five 1,000-yard seasons. Yes, he had the 2,000-yard season and was pretty much the best RB in the NFL for those years, but his peak was pretty short.

    I’d put Bruce Smith ahead of him by a bit. Much longer peak.

  33. It doesn’t sound to me as if Bruce Smith is complaining, but is instead responding to questions of how he feels and ending with his thought that he is blessed to be in his current position, but that some other guys need assistance.

    Ironically, many are criticizing Bruce for mentioning his pains and other difficulties while simultaneously mentioning their own pains and other difficulties.

  34. In the early 60’s, there was a TV documentary called “The Violent World Of Sam Huff”, former great middle LB’er of the Giants and Redskins. It was the first close look by television at the violent game of pro football. It shocked a lot of people because it was the first time they could actually hear the hits and groans of the players.
    So — let’s stop all the pretending that the players weren’t aware how tough this sport is and the toll it takes on the body.
    I’m in my 60’s and I never played college or pro football. But I’ve had both knees replaced and two discs removed from my back from injuries I suffered doing what millions of other people have done and are doing — working. And I ache all over too, at times. And my memory isn’t as sharp as it used to be, either.
    So — it’s not that I don’t empathize for former players like Smith — but if I could back and do what he did for a living and make the money he made doing it, where do I sign???
    And every player playing now or in the future knows fully well what can happen, so it’s all on them. Play, or don’t play, it’s their choice.
    I wish Smith a long and healthy life. But I don’t feel sorry for him one bit. Because there are millions of senior citizens in this country who never played football who are suffering and no one gives them a platform to highlight their struggles.

  35. People forget the play Dan Reeves made for Bruce Smith. The Bills matched.

    But I hurt and sometimes forget, too. And I never played. So where’s the line between aging and PTSD?

  36. “While I did not know the severity of what continuous head traumas could do to an individual and the mind and so forth…”

    Really?

    C’mon, man!

  37. Jun 7, 2016 9:26 AM – JSpicoli says: … Lawyers have a way of milking the last drop of decency out of everyone….

    This.

  38. Well this must be deflating for Roger Goodell to see this make the news when his busy distracting the general public of the concussion issue.

  39. “jag1959 says: Jun 7, 2016 8:35 AM Bruce Smith, a great player on the field and a great ambassador of the game off of it. He terrorized O-lineman and QB’s on every snap then helped them up after the whistle. We could use more guys like Bruce Smith in the game.”

    Totally agree. A monster in his time. When you have to game-plan for a guy every week…..

  40. I have no reason to dislike bruce smith but for those making him out to be the GOAT let me axe you this. How many Super Bowls did he help the Bills win? I mean for all but one game they were down right embarrassed.

  41. Not to downplay any of this but,

    I have daily pain and forget things too! It’s called age, it happens to all of us. No one in their 40’s and 50’s feels like a 20 year old anymore, football or not.

    My $0.02

  42. iamthehorniestmanintheworld says:
    Jun 7, 2016 11:34 AM
    I have no reason to dislike bruce smith but for those making him out to be the GOAT let me axe you this. How many Super Bowls did he help the Bills win? I mean for all but one game they were down right embarrassed.
    ——–

    Winning a Superbowl has nothing to do with being the GOAT, which is a subjective title anyway. Trying to use the Superbowl as a metric for the GOAT is futile. To many incredibly talented players, stuck on bad teams or bad situations.

    Everything for the whole team has to come together, at the right time, to win a Superbowl. It has no bearing on individual accomplishments.

  43. I know he’s only a little over 50 so he’s not that old but it makes me wonder if some future players will try to pin normal age related pains and brain changes to the concussions when instead they’re just 80 now and that’s how things are.

  44. quick whining… my body hurts everyday too and I didn’t make millions working for less than 20 years at a sport. all you ex jocks think you are special and have extra coming… WAKE UP! you already got it!!!!!!

  45. Bruce Smith is the greatest player to ever play the Defensive End position. It is super unfortunate that he never attained a Super Bowl ring, because he definitely deserved it! Bruce Smith=GOAT

  46. Didn’t any of you guys watch the PBS Frontline special “League of Denial,” (or the Concussion movie, but the PBS documentary is better) and see what CTE can do to people? Backs and joints is one thing, the mental hell of severe CTE is another.

    I really hope that some treatment to relieve CTE’s effects is developed, as I suspect there will be many ex-NFL players who will suffer from CTE as they get older. None of these recent suicides did it because their knees hurt, they did it because they had turned into raging monsters and couldn’t stop or understand what they were doing to their families and themselves.

    You can watch League of Denial online for free at the PBS web site.

  47. I bet he does have a lifetime of pain after the butt-whoopin’ Tony Boselli put on him.

  48. So many people sitting on their computers comparing walking up and down the stairs in their house to what a typical NFL player went through. It’s sickening to read some of these comments when the guy is being as gracious as one could possibly be. One more thing, High School and sandlot football doesn’t count either.

  49. I’m in constant pain and I forget what I had for breakfast and I didn’t even play in the NFL. It’s called getting older. I’m sure it’s worse for football players but that can’t be blamed entirely on football. Getting older sucks.

  50. Yes, he’s a first ballot Hall of Famer. A lot of great players are. It would be dumb to call him the greatest defensive lineman of all time simply because he played 19 years and had the sack record.

    Dan Hampton is a Hall of Famer too. He had 12 knee surgeries. His doctor reportedly told him, “If you don’t retire now you’ll have a hard time walking when you’re older.” He reportedly answered, “I have a hard time walking NOW.”

    Players need to retire when their bodies tell them. And not play until their bodies are destroyed.

  51. Sadly after a nearly 50 year career of watching NFL football, all of the beer, soda, pizza, chips and salsa, the consumption of which the NFL has knowingly and actively coerced me into through advertising, has caused me to be overweight causing arthritic joints and other various painful ailments and has likely exposed me to potential high blood pressure and possibly heart disease all resulting in an early death. How could the NFL conceal the fact that sitting on my ass watching NFL redzone for 7 hours on Sunday, SNF, MNF and then TNF totally 20 hours of their programming a week would lead to obesity. Any chance I might have a case? How dare they profit off of my obesity! I demand billions of dollars for all other overweight NFL obsessed fans to help us deal with the various pain and suffering the NFL has caused us.

    To me, the argument above is how stupid 300lb men sound to me when they whine about CTE.

  52. Nobody talks about the selfishness of players that play too long. Bruce Smith is becoming a senile old man 20 years before his time. What a great gift to give your wife, your children, and your grandchildren! But hey, he got to play! That was obviously much more important to him than his family.

  53. In addition to all time sack leader, Bruce Smith holds the record for most tackles for a loss. ( Includes ball carriers ). Bruce spent a lot of time in opposing teams backfields.

  54. chut26 says:
    Jun 7, 2016 12:20 PM
    Reggie White >>> Bruce Smith
    _____________________________
    Bruce Smith owns the sack record… enough said.

  55. another NFL mystery similiar to the 70’s Vikings is how a team loaded with so many HOFers felt apart in every Sunday Bowl?
    to lose a close contest is fine but to get blown out in 3 out of 4 games with HOF QB’s??

  56. Some of us are old enough to remember Reggie White putting his Packers team on his back and winning the Super Bowl.

    Bruce Smith couldn’t and didn’t do that.

    White was simply a superior DE than Smith was.

  57. What else do these guys need to know about concussions and CTE and the toll that playing football takes on the body?

  58. He wasn’t whining, he was answering a question, and he answered it in a very diplomatic manner. His only real statement was that people shouldn’t get lost in the ongoing political saga the issue has become, while ignoring the immediate needs of guys who are in worse condition than he is.

    How is anyone here opposed to this?

    How about if we had the talents and experience of guys like Junior Seau, who might be still involved with the game and sharing their knowledge with young guys, had something been done to help them sooner? Wouldn’t that improve the quality of professional football? Do you even like football?

  59. jag1959 says:
    Jun 7, 2016 8:35 AM
    Bruce Smith, a great player on the field and a great ambassador of the game off of it. He terrorized O-lineman and QB’s on every snap then helped them up after the whistle. We could use more guys like Bruce Smith in the game

    He also terrorized cranberry & vodka, pulled over twice to sleep in his car before realizing he was driving drunk after sleeping with his side chick on his way home to his wife…Great guy!

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