Calvin Johnson Admits NFL Players Hide Concussions Regularly

Responding to controversial comments made by Tom Brady’s wife Gisele Bündchen back in May that the New England Patriots quarterback suffered undisclosed concussions, former Detroit Lions receiver Calvin Johnson revealed that hiding concussions is a regular practice in the NFL.

“Guys get concussions, they don’t tell the coaches,” Johnson said Saturday at his football camp, according to 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.”

Gisele Bündchen sat down for an interview on CBS This Morning last week and was asked about her desire to see her husband retire from playing football. She said that the game is dangerous and Brady has suffered brain injuries as a result of playing. The comments sparked a controversy because Brady had never suffered an official concussion on his medical records. However, Bündchen claims that he suffered a concussion as recently as last year.

Johnson was also never officially diagnosed with a concussion during his nine-year career but said he concealed one from team doctors.

“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).”

After Bündchen’s comments, the league went back to look through his official medical records and did not find any evidence of brain trauma but added that it would reach out to the NFL Players Association to find out more.

Johnson now educates players about the risks of concussions at his football camp and the importance of not pushing yourself too much.

“Each year, you’ve got to talk about it more and more, you’ve got to have programs,” Johnson said. “You’re doing these camps, you’ve got to talk about concussion awareness. But the biggest thing I told them, concussions, they happen in football, it’s part of football.

“The biggest thing is rest. If you feel like you’ve got a concussion, if you don’t know, if you take the test whatever, if you feel like you’ve got a concussion, the biggest thing is rest, man. Cause you usually compound your injury so much if you go back out there, and we all know that now.”

Reporting Concussions Falls into ‘Gray Area’

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees also spoke about self-reporting when it comes to concussions and said it falls into a “gray area.”

He said that players aren’t always aware that they have a concussion and recounted his own story of a concussion on The Dan Patrick Show.

“I knew that something was not right. I knew that I was concussed,” Brees said about his only reported concussion in 2004. “But I didn’t take myself out of the game. I mean, I stayed in the game and played as long as I could until finally a coach pulled me aside and was like, ‘I’m looking out for you here, and you’re not gonna play anymore.’”

He also talked about the difficulty in realizing you have a concussion and finding the strength to take yourself out of the game.

“And that’s why it’s hard to change that mentality for guys,” he said. “When you’re in the heat of the moment, heat of the battle and it’s competitive, you do not want to pull yourself out. That’s why the concussion protocols are in place where you’ve got the independent neurological consultants and the trainers and the referees. Everybody’s supposed to be looking.”