ProFootballTalk

Calvin Johnson: “Of course” I had concussions I hid from the doctors

Calvin Johnson was a quiet guy during his playing career, but he has plenty to say in retirement.

Johnson, the former Lions receiver who said yesterday that he didn’t like how the team treated him when he retired, also had some interesting things to say about concussions.

Asked if he ever concealed a concussion from team doctors, Johnson answered, “Of course.”

They’re going to dispute that, but anytime you black out, anytime you hit the ground and everything is stars and stuff, any time your brain hits your skull, that’s a concussion,” Johnson said, via the Detroit Free Press. “No matter how severe it is, it’s a concussion. Now granted, some people get nausea. That’s a severe concussion when you get hit like that and you get nausea and stuff like that. But if you play football long enough [you’re going to have concussions].”

Tom Brady’s wife said last week that he had a concussion last season, which the NFL says was never diagnosed. Johnson said players frequently don’t get diagnosed by team doctors because they don’t want to miss any playing time.

“Guys get concussions, they don’t tell the coaches,” Johnson said. “It happens. I don’t tell the coach sometimes cause I know I got a job to do. The team needs me out there on the field. And sometimes you allow that to jeopardize yourself, but that’s just the nature of the world.”

As the NFL has mandated removing players from games when they suffer concussions, an unintended consequence is that players who don’t want to leave a game won’t seek medical help if they feel concussion symptoms. Johnson knows that first hand.