Five years ago, Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady became the short-term focus of football concussions after his wife announced he had multiple concussions. Currently, Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is the face of concussion injuries in the NFL.
On Monday, Brady addressed the situation at his Let’s go! podcast. Jim Gray set the table by giving Brady a broad invitation to comment on recent events.
“Especially what happened with the concussions and Tua and the change in protocols now,” Gray said of a transcript circulated by SiriusXM. “Tom what do you think of what we saw, you had it yesterday in your game with Cameron Brate, he had to leave the game, it didn’t seem like he was in a situation where he couldn’t play. In fact, I think he came back into the game and then later got eliminated. What do you think of what has happened here in the last seven days?”
“Well,” Brady said, “I think concussions are part of contact sports and I think, you know, I watch boxing, I watch UFC, people get pretty knocked out. You know, it’s part of these very physical sports and all of them have risks. And I think if you’re an athlete who chooses to do that, you have to understand that that’s part of it. Just like you can injure other parts of your body. So, I think my view has always been that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and that you can do your best to be really proactive about your health and make sure you can recover from injury as well as quickly as possible and put your body in the best possible position to give it the best possible nutrients to deal with any trauma you come in contact with.
Gray then asked Brady if the protocols needed changing.
“Well, I think they’re all going to be evaluated, no doubt,” Brady replied. “But at the same time, I think there’s so much focus on the aftermath of that. I think what can we do up front so that we athletes are able to handle the physical elements of sport? Because you can’t take them out of the sport. You know, that’s just not the reality. If you want to play two-hand-touch football, there won’t be many people tuning in.
“Concussions, knees, I’d say most athletes would probably rather deal with a concussion than a knee injury, you know? So there will be knee injuries, there will be ankle injuries, there will be concussions, there will be shoulder injuries. I think we all come to these thoughts and conclusions in a short time. But at the same time, that’s exactly what sport is. And I think you have to take the good with the bad. And I think no one ever wants to see anyone get hurt. Nobody ever wants to see someone hurt. Nobody ever wants to see a concussion. Nobody ever wants to see an ankle sprain. Nobody ever wants to see a knee injury. But they happen. I think what’s the best way to deal with this? What are the best practices related to preventing them, and if you do get them, how do you recover as quickly as possible? So I think that really should be a focus as well. How do you implement these protocols for athletes? And that’s something we should all think about so that we can do our jobs better in the future.”
It’s unclear what, if anything, can be done to prevent concussions through diet. (Brady’s TB12 guru Alex Guerrero once sold a drink said to prevent head injuries.)
On the field, players can protect themselves in a way that minimizes the chance of getting hit to the head. Quarterbacks may get rid of the ball faster, voluntarily hit the deck, or otherwise avoid hits.
Brady’s attempt to equate concussions with other injuries is understandable, but ignores the fact that knee and ankle injuries will not threaten the flow of future football players. Concussions and how to deal with them.
Yes, adult males should be allowed to bear the risks associated with participating in contact sports. In fact, boxing and UFC and other fight-related competitions carry a far greater risk of multiple head injuries in a short period of time.
In the process, football falls victim to its popularity. People pay more attention to head injuries in football than in other sports because a lot more people pay attention to football. And far more people play football at a young age. There is no multi-billion dollar college boxing, college UFC, or college wrestling industry. But there is a multi-billion dollar college football industry that feeds the NFL. And high school football feeds college football.
So, in hopes that the system for developing future great football players doesn’t collapse, the NFL has shown a far greater sensitivity to concussion than other sports. The existence of these other sports does not depend on the immersion of young children, teenagers, high school students and/or college students. The existence of football does.
That’s the difference between football and boxing and the UFC. Because of this, the NFL strives to have the best possible protocols for dealing with concussions. The NFL believes it needs to set a standard that makes parents feel more comfortable (or less uncomfortable) letting their kids play.