Leonard Floyd, the 2016 top pick for the Chicago Bears, revealed that it took him two months to recover from his second concussion in a five-week span during his first season in the NFL.
“You just don’t feel normal. You know, it’s this thinking part, like you don’t think the same,” he told reporters at minicamp earlier this month, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. “I wasn’t thinking like I normally would think. And then I’d be staring off in space some times instead of paying attention.”
On Nov. 20 in a game against the New York Giants, Floyd was carted off the field on a backboard and taken to the hospital in an ambulance for observation after his first concussion. But it was his second concussion just a few weeks later that left him feeling uncomfortable.
In a game against Washington on Dec. 24, Floyd collided with his teammate on a tackle attempt and suffered another concussion. Team doctors told him not to work out until his symptoms left.
“It took me two months to really feel like I was back to myself,” he said. “I was just at the house, relaxing, getting my mind back together. After those two months, I felt back.”
He slowly improved during the two months but did not feel comfortable working out until the second month.
“Day by day, I was able to focus more, and my mind wasn’t all racing everywhere, and I was able to lock in on things,” he said.
Floyd ended up playing only 12 games last season due to his injuries, but his most notable plays were his seven sacks and a recovered fumble in the end zone.
Former Players Concerned For Floyd’s Concussions
Floyd’s revelation became a talking point on some radio talk shows. On a June 16 show hosted by former NFL players Ross Tucker and Anthony “Booger” McFarland for Sirius Radio, the two expressed concerns over his long-term health.
“It’s going to affect you for the rest of your life,” McFarland said, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “If I were around him or if the people around him (are) listening, make sure he gets an opportunity to get his brain checked out.
“You do not want to go back out there and get another concussion. If he gets his third one, let’s say in less than a year, now, you have to start having a conversation about should he play football ever again. That’s not if you want to, that’s probably he shouldn’t at all.”
McFarland, who won a Super Bowl with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Indianapolis Colts, suggested that the Bears could be the target of lawsuits down the line if Floyd keeps getting injured and playing.
“If you’re Chicago, think about this in a day in age where teams are getting sued, the league is getting sued, the league is in a big lawsuit,” McFarland said. “At what point does a lawsuit go from the league to the team? What if he comes out plays this year, gets another concussion and after that he can’t play anymore?
“(Then he would have) three diagnosed concussions in (say) his last 16 games total. Somehow, Chicago allowed him to play. When do we get to the point where these players attribute these (injuries) to the team?”
More NFL Players Retiring Earlier Over Health Concerns
During the show, former offensive lineman Tucker said he would retire if he had suffered a long-lasting concussion like Floyd.
“He’s 24 years old, and I guess he’s talking to doctors and all, I guess here’s what would be my point, if I had anything going on where my brain wasn’t working right for two months, good bye, see ya later,” said Tucker. “I almost wouldn’t care what the doctors would say. Two months! Two months!”
It would not be unusual for a player to retire early over health concerns.
Tight end Jordan Cameron announced his retirement from football in March after suffering four concussions in just six seasons.
The 28-year-old told ESPN that his concern for his long-term mental health was the driving factor.
“If I didn’t get concussions, I’d probably keep playing,” Cameron said. “It’s one of those things. I can’t risk my mental health in the future. I don’t have any symptoms now. I’m perfectly fine. But they can’t tell me with 100 percent certainty that if I keep playing and I get more concussions, that I’m going to be OK.
“I’m not risking that at all. There’s nothing more important than your health. It’s just not worth it to me.”
Last year, 23-year-old Buffalo Bills linebacker A.J. Tarpley announced his retirement on Instagram after suffering four concussions over his career, including two his rookie season.
As of now, Floyd has not given any indication that he intends to retire.