Despite suffering concussions the last couple of seasons, Carolina Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly won’t change the way he approaches the game.
“You play the game and don’t think about getting hurt because that slows you down and increases the likelihood of getting hurt,” he said, per David Newton of ESPN. “I don’t think about it. You just go out there and play. You’ve got to play hard. The moment you slow down, then that’s when you get hurt.”
After first missing three games in the 2015 season, Kuechly missed the final six games last year after suffering a concussion against the New Orleans Saints. The linebacker was cleared to play the final three games of the season, but the Panthers chose to hold him out and let his brain heal that much longer.
The last concussion was particularly scary, and Kuechly was visibly emotional as a result of the brain trauma. The Panthers made the smart choice to keep him out of the lineup, even though it wasn’t what he wanted to do.
“Everybody knows I wanted to play,” he said. “Everybody knows the decision was made by the coaches. So hopefully we can move on from that. I’m not going to answer any more questions about concussions because I’m done with that.”
Despite his desire to be “done with” questions about concussions, Kuechly absolutely must be careful about how he proceeds going forward. He’s always been a hard-hitting linebacker who isn’t afraid to stick his head into a pile. So in that sense, he really should change the way he plays, at least a little bit.