Last Sunday night against the Kansas City Chiefs, it was clear that Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu suffered some sort of head injury. Given his incredible history, which we’ve discussed at length here, it’s amazing the team isn’t being more up front about his condition and looking out for his long-term interests. That’s exaclty what Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio properly brings to light in a recent column.
He writes, “Perhaps the Steelers have avoided the “C” word in order to keep a truly independent neurologist out of the team’s and the player’s business. Or maybe the goal is to subtly influence players to try to conceal their “concussion-like symptoms” whenever and wherever possible, as part of facing down the demons inherent to the sport.”
Polamalu explains himself to Florio and says he’s willing to face his fears:
“That’s the fear, I think, that any player faces, and that’s the fear that anybody, any individual faces — overcoming any certain fears of being a coward, you know, or letting your teammates down or turning down a hit,” Polamalu said regarding whether he’s concerned about a hit to the head that could cause long-term damage. “That’s the beautiful thing about sports, is these fears are right in your face and it’s pretty obvious if you turn them down or not. I have the fear. No question about it. But I’m willing to fight it, for sure.”
The NFL must do a better job in educating their current players by having former players appear in locker rooms or socialize in some format so that players know what they are risking for the sake of the team or winning or whatever other platitude the head coach is yelling about. In a matter of a few years, they might not be able to remember what it was they were fighting for in the first place.