Our Personal Hidden Toll from Football

Aug 22, 2012

Today I was reminded again of the firestorm that followed a single comment I’d made several years ago: “I wish I never played football.” It was an interview I had done with Jeff Pearlman from Sports Illustrated back in December 2009. You can read the full article –  click HERE.
At first, I took a lot of heat from many other football players – active and retired – with each of them interpreting my words differently. Never mind the rants from fans and armchair quarterbacks! But over time, I received a lot of support from my fellow retirees who understand all too well what I really meant. In fact, this spring, Hall of Famer Lem Barney said much the same thing:

Hall of Famer Lem Barney wishes he’d never played football

Posted by Michael David Smith on March 24, 2012
Lem Barney, a Pro Football Hall of Famer who is one of the scores of former players suing the NFL over brain injuries, says that he now regrets ever playing football at all.
“If I look at the game now and I look back on it retrospectively, if I had another choice I’d never played the game, at all, in my life,” Barney told the Detroit Free Press. “Never. Never. From all-city, all-state, all-conference, all-American, seven times All-Pro, I’m in eight Hall of Fames, it wouldn’t be. It would be golf or tennis. I’m serious. Very serious.”
Read the rest of that post on ProFootballTalk – click HERE.
And today, we have a fresh interview from Hall of Famer Joe Delamielleure discussing concussions, the growing lawsuits, as well as his own “I wish I’d never played football…” quotes. Here’s the candid 3-part interview with Joe D. from The Sporting News:



And you can read the rest of the Syracuse.com article with Joe Delamielleure and Harry Carson by clicking HERE.

5 Responses so far | Have Your Say!

  1. John Hogan
    August 22nd, 2012 at 2:49 pm #

    John Hogan

    One of the very best pieces I’ve seen or read. I think it is very important Joe pointed out that he has had “thousands” of concussions. The public needs to understand that a “light out” event is not necessary for a concussion and that the thousands of sub-concussive hits a player receives are just as devastating as a couple of events where the player needs to be carted off the field.

    Joe bring up another issue which I am seeing a lot in my disability practice: Living with the FEAR of when dementia might strike a retired player is almost as bad as actually suffering through it.

    John Hogan
    Disability Attorney
    Retired Player Advocate

  2. Dirk Knudsen
    August 22nd, 2012 at 8:58 pm #

    Dirk Knudsen


    Thank You. That is all I can really say.

    I am one of the few parents and Coaches who have seen all of this for what it is and said simply, “Enough.”

    No more Youth Football for us. The damage is already done to 2 of my 3. Now we go to a lot of funerals and meet with a lot of crippled and maimed kids and together, are a family. But our numbers are few and it can be a very lonely place indeed.

    Never relent. Never give up. As my youngest and I learned from an entire family of Scotsmen in Kona who had this tattooed on their knuckles… “HOLD FAST.”

    Keep cranking, pal. Your legacy goes far beyond football!

    Best Regards,
    Dirk Knudsen

  3. Lloyd Mumphord
    August 22nd, 2012 at 10:02 pm #

    Lloyd Mumphord

    The truth will set you free. Thank you, Joe!

    Lloyd Mumphord
    Miami Dolphins, Baltimore Colts
    1969 – 1979

  4. Joe Steed
    August 23rd, 2012 at 2:14 am #

    Joe Steed

    Everything happens for a reason and God has a plan for us all. That said, coordination of the lawyers will be key to creating a “wedge” to free up a quick settlement or resolution via a “concussion waiver” as an option for the league to thwart future litigation. Such a document could be worth BILLIONS in avoided litigation and lost revenues to the NFL as well as health care, assistive services and rehabilitation to NFL retirees.

    The only remaining issue is if NFL retirees will get a fair trial. There will be “divide and conquer” amongst the lawyers by the NFL. It is the current strategy being used amongst NFL players: active vs retired, etc., etc., etc. The critical question is whether or not we can find common ground. Yes – concussions OR commonality over player quality of life active or retired.


    Joe Steed
    Pittsburgh Steelers
    1992 – 1999

  5. George Visger
    August 23rd, 2012 at 11:48 am #

    George Visger

    Joe D,

    Well said! The ignorance of the NFL’s doctors back in those days can almost be understood unless you compare it to boxing’s regulations at the same time. Time off for weeks after a head injury in boxing. For us, it was take a few hits of smelling salts and get back in the game.

    The true sin is that there has been irrefutable evidence regarding brain damage from sub-concussive hits, the NFL has known of this for decades, and our own union has not fought for restitution to the older players as they will have to share from their 51% split of last year’s $9.5 BILLION pie.

    It’s all about greed.

    George Visger
    San Francisco 49ers 1980 & 1981
    Survivor of 9 NFL-Caused Emergency VP Shunt Brain Surgeries
    Benefactor of ZERO NFL Benefits