After spending his NFL career dishing out some of the hardest hits, Rodney Harrison is issuing a plea to today’s athletes not to play through a concussion. it is simply not worth it.
“I would get hit, the entire stadium is spinning around, and I would go back into the game. It’s not worth it,” Harrison said during Sunday Night Football on NBC. “And I would implore these young men: Don’t go back on that football field if you get hurt.”
Speaking with former NFL coach Tony Dungy, the former New England Patriots star’s comments followed Tua Tagovailoa’s head injury during the Miami Dolphins’ Week Four loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.
“I don’t want [today’s athletes] to feel like me and so many other former players that had to deal with concussions, whether it’s depression, anxiety, paranoia, broken relationships, not being able to communicate with your spouse, things like that. [Chronic traumatic encephalopathy] takes you to a dark place, and I want these players to know it’s not worth it,” Harrison said.
“Please take care of yourself. Don’t depend on the NFL. Don’t depend on anybody. If something’s wrong with your head, report it.”
Rodney Harrison played his entire career before the NFL finally started to take concussions seriously in 2009. For 15 seasons with the Chargers and Patriots, Rodney played without fear.
He does not want that for anybody else.
“Nobody’s going to think you’re soft or weak or anything like that if you’re reporting,” Harrison said. “So, please, I’ll tell you again, please report it if something’s wrong with your head because life after football is serious. Five, 10, 15, 20 years from now, you’re going to feel the effects of CTE.”
Maria Taylor noted that players fear if they speak up, then another player will step up and take their spot.
“It’s a culture of next man up,” Taylor said. “Is someone else going to take my spot? And that fear of being out and being held out will keep you from reporting, but at the same time, those guardrails have to be in place, they have to be monitored, and it really has to be executed perfectly.”
An NFL review of the decision to allow Tagovailoa to return to the Week 3 game against the Bills is ongoing.