After being released by the Washington Redskins and retiring from the NFL in 2011, Clinton Portis is now living a carefree life without some of the major health complications that can befall retired football players. But considering the abuse he says his brain suffered during his playing days, consider Portis lucky that he hasn’t yet shown signs of long-term cognitive issues.
The former Redskins running back recently sat down for a lengthy interview with CBS Sports’ Mike Freeman, talking mostly about how he’s living (well) in retirement. However, when the subject of concussions came up, Portis was brutally honest about playing through the pain.
“The truth is I had a lot of concussions,” Portis said. “It was just the way things were at the time. I’d get hit hard and be woozy. I’d be dizzy. I’d take a play off and then go back in. Sometimes when I went back into the game, I still couldn’t see straight. This happened all the time. Sometimes once or twice a game.”
When pressed on how many concussions he thinks he suffered, Portis was hesitant to name a number. However, it’s clear that the 31-year-old suffered a great deal of head trauma during his career.
“I can’t put an exact number on it,” said Portis. “I just know it was a lot. I stopped counting at some point.”
Unfortunately for Portis, though he may be fine now, many of the long-term issues associated with repeated head trauma — such as Alzheimer’s and chronic traumatic encephalopathy — often do not exhibit symptoms until later in life.