Breitbart Sports caught up to nine-time Pro Bowler Mike Haynes and three-time Super Bowl champion Ted Johnson in Times Square on Monday at a forum on concussions held at the NFL’s Super Bowl week hotel headquarters. We asked the retired players, who have become concussion-awareness activists in retirement, about a recent survey from ESPN’s NFL Nation that reported that 85 percent of NFL players would play with a concussion in the Super Bowl.
“I get it,” Johnson declared. “I get it. It’s the invisible injury. I can identify with a torn knee. I’ve had both shoulders reconstructed. I’ve had a broken foot. This is the invisible injury.” Johnson, who suffered through many concussions during his days as a Patriots linebacker, noted at the Sports Legacy Institute event that the main difficulties with concussions don’t always appear when they happen: “A lot of the issues come much later.”
For Johnson, the issues came in the form of amphetamine abuse, a massive weight gain, and cognitive difficulties following his playing career. “I retired because of concussions,” he explained. “My behavior was changing.”
“I understand that mentality,” Johnson remarked about players competing with concussions. “It may take years, and years, and years for that to change.”
The Pro Football Hall of Famer did not join the recent litigation against the NFL because he says he does not feel that his brain has been damaged by the game. Nevertheless, he promotes concussion awareness and coaches his son’s football team with a cautious approach to contact because of his concerns over athletes enduring neurological problems because of too many hits. He does all this, he unabashedly explains, because “I love football.”