Richard Sherman: Playing with a concussion paid off

richard sherman

Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman wrote a guest column for TheMMQB.com and talked about his one and only NFL concussion which occurred in week eight of the 2011 season when he got his first NFL start as a rookie.

On the game’s seventh play, I trailed my receiver down the left sideline and looked back to see Andy Dalton toss it underneath to Chris Pressley, their 260-pound fullback. As he turned up the sideline I came down hard, squared up, and dove at his legs. His right knee connected with my temple, flipping him over my head. I got up quickly and shook my head back and forth to let them know nobody is running me over. The problem was that I couldn’t see. The concussion blurred my vision and I played the next two quarters half-blind, but there was no way I was coming off the field with so much at stake. It paid off: Just as my head was clearing, Andy Dalton lobbed one up to rookie A.J. Green and I came down with my first career interception. The Legion of Boom was born.

Sherman is smart.  He explained that he no longer leads with his head.

That was the second and last time I’ve had a concussion, mainly because I don’t make a habit of leading with my head. As a cornerback, I’m better served diving at the legs of ball-carriers bigger than me, and squaring up those who are my size.

Sherman did go on to say that players that lead with their heads like Brandon Meriweather aren’t the problem, but the NFL itself is.

A NASCAR driver understands that anything can happen during a race; his car could flip at 200 miles per hour. A boxer knows when he goes in the ring what’s happening to his body. Just like them, we understand this is a dangerous game with consequences not just in the short term, but for the rest of our lives. All of us NFL players, from wide receivers to defensive backs, chose this profession. Concussions are going to happen to cornerbacks who go low and lead with their shoulders, wide receivers who duck into contact, safeties who tackle high and linemen who run into somebody on every single play. Sometimes players get knocked out and their concussions make news, but more often it’s a scenario like mine, where the player walks away from a hit and plays woozy or blind. Sometimes I can tell when a guy is concussed during a game—he can’t remember things or he keeps asking the same questions over and over—but I’m not going to take his health into my hands and tell anybody, because playing with injuries is a risk that guys are willing to take. The players before us took that risk too, but they still sued the league because they felt like they were lied to about the long-term risks. Today, we’re fully educating guys on the risks and we’re still playing. We have not hidden from the facts.

Sherman made some good points, but the fact of the matter is that just like NASCAR, the NFL is obligated to strive to make their sport as safe as they can going forward.