Since Roger Goodell took over as NFL commissioner, the league has placed a focus on concussions suffered by players. From enacting a new concussion policy to introducing hefty fine for helmet-to-helmet contact, the NFL has made it clear that increasing player safety is the most important thing on their agenda.
One would think the players would be elated to know that their league was doing something to maintain their well-being beyond the playing field. But then, former NFL running back Ricky Williams is not most players.
“I don’t buy it,” he said. “I’m only speaking from my personal experience, and because I’ve never allowed myself to buy it, and I haven’t been affected. And yes, I’m aware that football is a rough sport, but instead of saying, ‘Oh, I’m doomed to brain trauma,” I said, ‘What can I do about this?’
“I’m not a really big fan of the way the NFL is handling concussions,” Williams added while discussing concussions with ESPN’s Dan LeBatard. “Maybe I’m stupid or whatever, but to me if I got a concussion, if I could see straight and I could carry a football then I’m not telling anybody.
“From what I’ve seen, [the NFL is] all about prevention—but can you prevent a concussion? They don’t believe they can actually treat a concussion.”
The recent suicide of San Diego Chargers legend Junior Seau has added momentum to the belief that there is a correlation between the head trauma football players suffer during their careers and health problems once they hang up their cleats for good.
When asked about this connection Williams, who amassed more than 10,000 yards in 11 seasons with a punishing running style, pointed to the fact that players are aware of the strain professional football puts on the body.
Said Williams: “If we’re going to spend six months brutalizing our bodies, I said, That makes sense. I’m going to spend six months taking care of my body.’ I started to equip myself with tools. I started practicing yoga, and I started learning some hands-on healing stuff. I found really good chiropractors and massage therapists, and I found that I was able to peel off layers of trauma on my body. I actually move better now than I did [when I played].”
Williams added that the league’s money would be better spent on improved health care and alternative healing. He said that science in the future will ultimately reinforce his beliefs, and he pointed out that in hindsight, scientists of centuries ago got their fair share of things incorrect.
But Williams did admit: “Ten years from now, I might be completely walking on the street, scratching my head and yelling out profanities, but right now, I feel fine. I don’t even feel a little bit of the effects of playing football.”