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An Ex-NFL Linebacker Says He Had 2,500 Concussions

SourceThe turning point for Gary Plummer came after his former teammate and friend, Junior Seau, committed suicide in 2012. … Seau’s death sent shockwaves through the NFL, and it had a chilling effect on Plummer.

“I knew I was having some issues, but like a typical NFL guy, you think you’re still invincible,” Plummer said on The 49ers Insider Podcast.

“After Junior, my wife said, ‘Dude, you got to do something; I don’t want you to be the next Junior Seau.’ ”

Plummer, now 58, sought help and was diagnosed with the early stages of dementia after a career that spanned 15 professional seasons. …

A Grade 1 concussion is considered “mild.” It might consist of a person “seeing stars,” brief confusion and no loss of consciousness. But it is still a concussion with a potentially devastating cumulative effect.

“If you’re not getting at least 10 of those a game, as a middle linebacker in the NFL, that means you didn’t play that day,” Plummer said. “I played 250 games. So (with) at least 10 a game, that’s 2,500 concussions.”

I have to confess, when I first read that number of 25,000, I thought Plummer either exaggerating or really insane in the membrane because that many concussions would have grey matter spilling out of his ears like the spigot of a frozen yogurt machine. But when he breaks down the math like that, I think it’s perfectly plausible. Ten “mild” concussions per game when you’re on the field for 60 or so snaps is not that outrageous a claim at all. And it’s chilling.

I readily admit I’m one of the people who’s whistling past the graveyard on the CTE thing. I read Gary Plummer saying he’s struggling with his mental health at the age of 58 and it bothers me. For the three minutes or so I think about it before I move on to reading draft profiles and free agent rankings and watch the latest Julian Edelman workout video. These articles are the football equivalent of a PSA for Save the Children or dogs looking sad over a Sarah McLaughlin song. It affects you but you go back to whatever is it you were doing and move on.

What I am not is one of those people who believes stories like this are going to kill football in the long run. Like I’ve said before, since the dawn of civilization, humans have sat in circles and watched men fight. From sticks and rocks to swords and shields. From fighting on horseback with lances to climbing into a ring with padded gloves. It’s part of our hardwiring. Now it’s helmets and shoulder pads. And as long as people want to see it, guys will want to do it for the fame, the money, the women. But also for the glory. If Junior Seau’s suicide didn’t stop it, nothing will.

I doubt this revelation by Plummer will get much traction. And if I’m Roger Goodell – and only by the grace of an all-loving God am I not – I’d spin this as proof that football is safe since here’s a player who took 25,000 hits and he’s alive and well because not all concussions are devastating or whatever. I’d say we’re doing everything we can to make the game safe in ways they didn’t in Plummer’s day. And mostly I’d count on the fact that next year when it’s 3rd & goal nobody’s going to be giving a shit about the brain of the inside linebacker who’s coming up into the gap to make a stop. Since we’re being honest here, I know I won’t. But right now the idea of a guy’s skull getting rattled 25,000 is turning my stomach.