Excerpts of NFL players’ interviews on concussions

From Dec. 14-22, The Associated Press interviewed 44 NFL players

– at least one from each of the league’s 32 teams – to gauge

whether concussion safety and attitudes about head injuries have

changed in the past two years.

Here are some of their responses:

”Well, you know, the league is so hard on players these days.

Guys are trying to get the most they can, especially when they

don’t feel they’ve fully achieved what they have in this business.

I think at this point in my life, for me personally, if I had a

concussion, I’d try to hide it.”

– Cincinnati Bengals running back Cedric Benson.

”Before these studies came out, I’d probably say, `Hide and

stay in the game.’ But with the studies now, I would … tell

someone and let them know because … these guys having all these

problems off the field – it scares me. I would want to tell someone

to evaluate me, because it’s not just myself. I think about my wife

and kids. I want to be around for them well after these days of

football are over. I love the game, but I care about my health as

well.”

– Baltimore Ravens defensive lineman Cory Redding.

”There’s a lot more awareness. If a guy gets a concussion today

and comes to the sideline and isn’t sure where he’s at or whatever,

he’s not likely to go back in. Ten years ago, it might have been

different.”

– St. Louis Rams tight end Billy Bajema.

”Some people are worried about their health and their future. I

just want to stay on the field.”

– Detroit Lions center Dominic Raiola.

”Obviously, they take extra-special care of the quarterback.

But even as a receiver going across the middle, you know, for the

most part, they’re not going to be head-hunting (now). When I came

into the league, that’s all they did. They were coming to knock

your head off. That’s what they wanted to do. That was the purpose

of the hit – to get you out of the game and make the crowd say,

`Ooh,’ as Ronnie Lott puts it. Yeah, it’s definitely safer, no

doubt about it.”

– Atlanta Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez.

”I think the old adage was to try to tough it out – the `I’m

tough’ mentality. I think we’ve been educated enough, and know

people who have had concussions, so I think we’re well aware that

we always look for longevity and safety. Believe it or not, when

you meet players after the game from the opposing team, that’s the

first thing we wish: `Hey, have a healthy season, man.”’

– New York Jets nose tackle Sione Pouha.