- You played 16 years in the league. I would have to wonder and ask what your reaction was to this, considering how young Aaron Hernandez was.
- It's very frightening. I was shocked by the information. I was shocked by the recent study of the 110 former players. 111, 110 of them having some form or advanced stages of CTE. It's just, it's hard for me, because every since I can really, really remember, this is what I wanted to do.
But now, as a former player, I've never really had any other job besides sports. So I played football 16 years, you mentioned that. I've been in television 16 years talking about sports, talking about football. Nick and I were talking earlier, I've taught so many kids football. I coached a Little League team, traveled playing football, coached a high school team.
We've got 11 kids playing in the NFL today, more than any high school in the nation. I'm talking about great plays. Giovani Bernard, Geno Atkins, Joey Bosa, Philip Dorsett, James White, Bobby Hart. I mean, great people. Like, I've talked to them about football, I've talked to their parents about football.
Like, to me, I wonder what's going to happen. Like, what's going to happen to my generation? I've had teammates who have killed themselves. Andre Waters, a teammate of mine in Philadelphia. I've had good friends of mine, Junior Seau, Dave Duerson, great men, guys that have done tremendous things in their community. All of a sudden, they became violent and took their own lives.
So I worry. I worry what my future is. Now, I haven't shown any signs of it. I didn't have any record concussions playing. But I would say there is some type of fear, fear of the unknown. But I sit here conflicted, because with all the information I have, I wouldn't change a thing.
When I was seven years old, I tried to play football. A doctor changed my birth certificate. I wasn't even old enough. The lady told me, son, come back with your mom. I had a pen on my birth certificate and I had changed it. And I came back the next year, so proud, signed up, paid my $25. And football gave me a sense of purpose. It gave me a sense of meaning.
There's not a whole bunch of options in America for a black man. But sports, it gives you that opportunity. People don't discriminate, people don't care what your religion is. It's a matter of who is the best. So where would my life be without football? I don't know, and I'd hate that think about it.
But what football has done for my family, I mean, what it's done for my mom. My mom had seven kids before she was 25. Almost everyone in her life told her she was a loser and she wasn't going to be successful. But my brother playing in the NBA and myself playing in the NFL, my mom went back to college. Got her degree, went back and got her master's. My sisters, the things they have been able to do. Myself. I have been around the world, calculated, four times. With no college degree and no formal education.
So for me, the CTE thing is real. But also in America, what other choice does a black man have that's better than the National Football League? That presents the opportunities, economically, the influence that you have? So for me, I still encourage young people. The game is safer now than it's ever been. Are there some drawbacks to the game that are not pretty? Yes. But what is your recourse?
Like, what do you do if you have athletic ability? You just decide not to play football? Just going to play basketball or just going to play baseball? So for me, I'm conflicted. It's a game that I love. And given the information that I have, I hope the rest of my life works out well. But I'm willing to suffer the consequences because what it's done for me.
So it's alarming, a guy, 27. I knew Aaron Hernandez. You know why? Because Urban Meyer is a good friend of mine. I saw him recruit him from Bristol, Connecticut, and All-American. I saw him at the University of Florida at practices. And to think that this is a game that we encourage young people to play and the end result was that, I'm conflicted. I really am.