Now that he’s comfortably retired, former Detroit Lions receiver Calvin Johnson is beginning to open up about things he’d never have discussed during his playing days.
Hours after making it clear there is no love lost between himself and the Lions organization, Johnson chimed in on the concussion discussion that has begun to swirl in light of comments made by Gisele Bundchen about Tom Brady having suffered one in 2016.
“Guys get concussions, they don’t tell the coaches,” Johnson said after his ‘Catching Dreams’ football camp Saturday at Southfield High, via Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. “It happens. I don’t tell the coach sometimes cause I know I got a job to do. The team needs me out there on the field. And sometimes you allow that to jeopardize yourself, but that’s just the nature of the world.”
When asked if he had even hidden a concussion from his coaches and team training staff, Johnson replied, “Of course.”
“They’re going to dispute that, but anytime you black out, anytime you hit the ground and everything is stars and stuff, any time your brain hits your skull, that’s a concussion,” Johnson said. “No matter how severe it is, it’s a concussion. Now granted, some people get nausea. That’s a severe concussion when you get hit like that and you get nausea and stuff like that. But if you play football long enough (you’re going to have concussions).”
Science seems to back Johnson’s assertion that football equates concussions. A study last year showed an alarming number of deceased former NFL players suffered from CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy), and a more recent study shows even youth football players are at a very high risk of suffering concussions.
Players who become stars in the NFL make lots of money, however. And don’t think for a second that the NFL’s concussion protocol is going to fix the real problem of concussions in football.
It’s still up to the players to report their symptoms when those symptoms aren’t severe enough to be seen by trainers and doctors during games. And with millions on the line, you can bet some players do hide their symptoms whenever they can.