As concussions, CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy), and NFL football all merge into one national conversation, former football players have become more and more open about their struggles and fears regarding brain injuries.
Count legendary Denver Broncos running back Terrell Davis as the latest former football player to address the way high impact collisions in the game of football have impacted his life even years later. Recently speaking with the Denver Post, Davis admitted that many older football players are scared about CTE and its impact on the human brain. Much of the recent discussion surrounding CTE has stemmed from a study done by Boston College that found CTE in 110-of-111 brains of former football players, all now dead. Many of the symptoms of CTE include headaches, anxiety, depression, lack of memory and confusion.
Here’s what Davis had to say, clearly referencing issues he’s having in his own life that may involve CTE:
“I can’t lie, we’re all scared,” Davis said. “We’re concerned because we don’t know what the future holds. When I’m at home and I do something, if I forget something I have to stop to think, ‘Is this because I’m getting older or I’m just not using my brain, or is this an effect of playing football? I don’t know that.
Davis did say he’s scared, which is about as blunt as a former football player can be, but he is encouraged about where the game is going. Davis played from 1995-2001, and even then the NFL wasn’t as aware or open about the impact that playing the game of football can have on the brain.
And though the NFL still isn’t perfect, the league has come a long way with helping players understand the risks of football, and the NFL has amended some of the rules to better protect players.
“Yeah, I’m scared, so I try to stay as active as possible, keep my mind as sharp as possible. But I also know the game has gone through great lengths to change, from Pop Warner to the pros. People ask me the question, would you let your kids play? Yeah, I would. Now, 10 years ago I may have said something different. But now, the way they’re teaching kids to tackle, the fact that they identify concussions a lot faster, they sit you out a couple plays, you’re not going to practice as long. All that stuff is helping the game of football. But, yes, I’m concerned.
Football is still a dangerous sport and as long as players are as big, fast, and as strong as they are, concussions will be a real part of the game — especially if the contact rules remain the same.
Current players are indeed better educated about concussions and CTE, but that doesn’t mean the disease won’t catch up to them down the road.
As Davis can attest to, that’s something many former players are finding out.