Amid countless lawsuits from former players about concussions and its long-term effects, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Troy Polamalu admitted to lying about concussion symptoms to team trainers and doctors.
“Yes, I have, for sure,” Polamalu said on the Dan Patrick Show when asked the question. He added that he did not tell any “major lies” when it comes to concussions, but said that football players see a distinction between a hit to the head that completely removes you from play and a lighter one that doctors view as a concussion.
“I’ve had, I believe, eight or nine recorded concussions. We’ll have another conversation after I’m done playing football,” Polamalu said on the show. “When you get your bell rung they consider that a concussion. I wouldn’t. If that is considered a concussion, I’d say any football player at least records 50 to 100 concussions a year.”
The four-time All-Pro did not seem to understand that an injury to the brain is markedly different from other injuries.
“Somebody may say, ‘Is your knee messed up?’ It may be kind of messed up but you just kind of push yourself to be out there with your brothers,” Polamalu said. “I wouldn’t say there are any major lies where I totally lied my way out of concussions. In fact, during concussions, if it’s serious enough you can’t even be conscious enough to lie.”
More than 2,400 retired NFL players are plaintiffs against the NFL, claiming the league knew repeated concussions could lead to brain damage and yet hid the information.
But Polamalu is the latest current player to admit being willing to hide a head injury. Bears Pro Bowl linebacker Brian Urlacher admitted in February he also would lie about a concussion to stay on the field.
Polamalu, who started all 16 games last season, said he’s willing to conceal a concussion because of the commitment players make to their teammates and the sport.
“There’s so much built up about team camaraderie and sacrifice, and football is such a tough man’s game,” Polamalu said. “I think that’s why it’s so popular, why so many blue-collar communities and people feel really attracted to it, because it’s sort of a blue-collar struggle that football players go through in terms of the physicality of the game and the commitment you need. … It’s that commitment you need to play football. You feel sore, you’re beat up, you’re injured, you’re legitimately injured, most people may take three months off to work in an office, we choose to play the next week.”