I must confess I never played organized football. I am a fan of the sport, a good friend of mine is a former NFL player, I wrote a book on the challenges the sport faces with respect to concussions but I never played organized ball.
I have always wondered, and asked a few former professional players why play injured? Doesn’t that run the risk of making the injury worse?
Well, in previous eras of the sport contracts were largely incentive based. Basically, the contract that defined a players salary (and I am exaggerating) would say, “Ok, here’s $20. Now when you get these stats you get an additional $100,000, then when you have this many tackles you get an additional $250,000.”
That isn’t the game of today. More and more salaries are some large up front chunk with salaries based on just being on the team and doing what the coach says (ok it isn’t that simple, I know but bear with me).
Why, in the modern sport, would someone hide a concussion? I think it is more than money.
First, to a man, all of the former players I have met are very driven, highly competitive individuals. But it is, I think, even more than that.
Why do I say that?
Many High School and NCAA players also don’t want an injury (not just head injury, almost any kind) reported if they don’t absolutely have to report it.
Think about what these guys do to get ready. At most in a season a player gets to play something like 20 games…and that is at the NFL level if you throw in pre-season and they make the playoffs. NCAA and High School it is even fewer.
These guys train for 9 months of the year for a 3 month season to go out and actually play the game at most 20 times. Well shoot if I was playing, and put in that kind of work, and had a chance to play in front of a crowd that few times. I’d want to stay in the game as well.