Most NFL players would do almost anything for a chance at a Super Bowl ring — including play with a serious injury.
ESPN’s NFL Nation reported Monday 85 percent — or 272 of the 320 NFL players polled — said they would play in the Super Bowl, even if they had a concussion.
While the results of the survey might not be particularly surprising, the lengths to which some players will go to see the field after suffering a concussion offers a slightly more concerning revelation.
“If it’s something where I’m having just a few symptoms and can hide it from the trainer, then yeah, I would do it,” Washington Redskins linebacker London Fletcher told NFL Nation.
The survey consisted of polling 10 players from each of the NFL’s 32 teams. Of the 20 players polled from both the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks — who will be participating in Super Bowl XLVIII Sunday — 16 players said they would play in the Super Bowl with a concussion if the decision were up to them.
Since a number of concussion rule changes took effect in 2009, the NFL has made playing with a concussion more difficult for players to hide from trainers. According to the return-to-play rules, a player cannot return to the field until he is fully asymptomatic and has been cleared by a team physician and an independent neurological consultant to play. If the player shows any signs of confusion or memory loss, by rule he is not allowed to return to the field that same day.
“They took tremendous steps toward the future of this game as far as violent hits, as far as protecting defenseless players, as far as concussion protocol,” Redskins linebacker Brian Orakpo told NFL Nation during the survey.
Still others worry that the culture of the NFL needs to change before player safety can become the main focus and the current rules can be effective in protecting players.
“[Players] don’t want to let themselves down. They don’t want to let their teammates down,” Tennessee Titans safety Bernard Pollard told NFL Nation. “They want to out there and play, not thinking about, ‘OK what can this affect later on down the line?’”
As far as the NFL’s role in the prevention of concussions, many players told NFL Nation that they question the NFL’s motives — fearing that protecting themselves from lawsuits and looking good to the public may be the NFL’s main priorities.
The NFL Nation survey reported only 60 percent of players believe the NFL is committed to player safety.