When I went to Catholic high school in Philadelphia, we just had one coach for football and basketball. He took all of us who turned out and had us run through a forest. The ones who ran into the trees were on the football team. ~ George Raveling
Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu is one of the best regarded players in the NFL. So it comes as a surprise to hear him admit that he "had eight or nine recorded concussions," and that he lied about it to stay in games. He made the statement yesterday in a radio interview on the Dan Patrick Show.
Here's what we learn from Polamalu's stunning admission.
- Concussion is more prevalent in football than we imagined.
- The "play hurt" culture of football is beyond what we imagined.
- The blue collar, hard hitting culture of the Steelers may have crossed a line much as the bounty culture of the Saints crossed a line.
- Players are not the best judge of when those lines are crossed.
We've heard James Harrison and Ryan Clark make stunning statements as Commissioner Roger Goodell tries to rein in practices that heighten injury risks. Polamalu is caught up in that culture.
The NFL's policy since December 2011 is to have certified athletic trainers available at each game to work with the medical staff of both teams to assess the best on-the-spot treatment for concussions. That may not be enough oomph to overcome the ingrained culture of playing while concussed. Call this more evidence that our favorite sport may be killing our favorite players.
We admire football players who give their all for their team, perhaps a bit too much. Polamalu, Harrison and Clark are future plaintiffs in law suits against the NFL for failure to protect them from the dangers of concussion.
Take care of yourself, fellas.
Related story - NFL sends memo to teams on concussion policy