Like many former NFL players, Calvin Johnson is speaking out about the dangers of playing football for a living. He shocked the sports community a few months ago when he decided to retire at 30, still somewhat in the prime of his career.
His past few seasons weren’t the usual “Megatron” type of campaigns, but injuries had a lot to do with that. Calvin Johnson retired because he’s aware of his longterm health. He’d like to be able to walk around and remember things when he’s older. He opened up to ESPN’s E:60 about suffering many concussions during his career. The scary part is that he was never officially diagnosed with a concussion during his career.
“Concussions happen,” he said. “If not on every play, then they happen like every other, every third play, you know. With all the helmet contact, guys hitting the ground, heads hitting ground. It’s simply when your brain touches your skull from the movement or the inertia, man. It’s simple to get a concussion, you know. I don’t know how many I’ve had over my career, you know, but I’ve definitely had my fair share.” Johnson didn’t come out and blame the league for knowingly putting players at risk, but he described a culture that demands that players play.
“The team doctor, the team trainers, they work for the team. And I love ’em, you know,” he said. “They’re some good people, you know. They want to see you do good. But at the same time, they work for the team, you know. They’re trying to do whatever they can to get you back on the field and make your team look good. So if it’s not gonna make the team look good, or if you’re not gonna be on the field, then they’re tryin’ to do whatever they can to make that happen.”