Why Athletes Keep Chasing Head Injuries
He was so comfortable, in fact, that, according to the release, “(James) Harrison called…to thank him for putting (Kevlar) in his helmet, proclaiming it was the first time he did not experience post-game head pain or ringing in his ears.” In seven years.
Polamalu took the field against the Cincinnati Bengals just seven days after sustaining his not-quite-acknowledged concussion. His fear of not being a man, of looking like a wuss in front of his teammates, trumped his fear of looking at his son at age 50 and seeing a stranger; of uncontrollably sobbing and not knowing why, like the departed NFL great Dave Duerson, or, more recently, the late 28-year-old NHL enforcer Derek Boogaard; of not remembering what he ate for breakfast that morning, like the late NHL tough guy Bob Probert.
The NFL is good—astonishingly so, to the point where it’s tough to ever quite notice it doing it—at pushing its stark-raving, trembling, broken-down old soldiers to the margins. They are kept away from public view and trotted out briefly when the occasion arises. We see them only as their younger, beautiful selves in living eulogies produced by NFL Films.
Not my words, that title above. Rather, they belong to Sean Conboy, the author of the excellent column originally posted on The Classical and republished on Deadspin. As if the Ben Utecht story weren't enough to give one pause...