The Pro Football Concussion Report

A Fan's Look at Head Injuries and the Concussion Crisis in Football

Real Play from Deion, Yes. Real Talk, No.

Deion Sanders on the Atlanta Braves, 1991   (AP)
Deion Sanders on the Atlanta Braves, 1991 (AP)

09.06.13

Deion Sanders was an amazing athlete. Perhaps one of the best ever. Along with Bo Jackson and Brian Jordan, Sanders is one of the few modern baseball and football players who were good in both professional leagues. But like many people who are star performers at work, once away from the field, the boardroom, the movie set or the courtroom, Sanders’ light doesn’t shine quite as bright.

Ken Bensinger of the Los Angeles Times just revealed the startling fact that Sanders filed a workers comp claim in March 2010 alleging that he is disabled from sustaining head injuries (and neck, torso, leg and other body parts, too) while playing football.  What’s so startling about this is that Sanders went on TV six months ago and publicly blasted the former players who were suing the NFL for lying about their injuries. Sanders made his now dumbfounding comments during the NFL Network’s Super Bowl pre-game show.

 

“The game is a safe game, the equipment is better. I don’t buy all these guys coming back with these concussions. I’m not buying all that. Half these guys are trying to make money off the deal. That’s real talk. That’s really how it is. I wish they’d be honest and tell the truth because it’s keeping kids away from our game.”

 

A big part of the problem of insuring that the game of football is as safe as possible is the players themselves. They are so used to lying about injuries in order to stay on the field, that it can be sometimes difficult to figure out what’s true or not.  Of course, incidents like this are off the charts. Using a television platform to dismiss the sincerity of other players, while quietly making the same claims and suing for compensation for yourself is pretty unbelievable. Sanders isn’t the only one. In April 2013, fellow Hall of Famer Forrest Gregg used his position while promoting a film for a large drug company to criticize the former players suing the league over head injuries. Gregg’s comments were proudly displayed in numerous headlines, articles and tweets.

 

“I have been asked to join these lawsuits and my gut feeling, first thought is no. I’ve always been an independent type, I never believed in somebody else being responsible for my life and for my well-being.” 

 

But months after making his public comments, Gregg, who suffers from Parkinson’s disease had a second thought and joined the NFL concussion lawsuits. As a result of the pending concussion settlement, Forrest Gregg and his family may soon be able to recover millions of dollars in compensation because of his illness.

Hopefully someday there will be additional changes in the game that allow players the flexibility to leave the field with a head injury and not risk losing their job. The recent concussion litigation succeeded in many ways, most importantly that many former players who have been suffering will finally get compensated. As far as the current NFL players who continue to dodge the concussion spotlight in an effort to salvage their once-in-a-lifetime, million dollar job, the challenge continues.

 

 

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