Nearly every NFL player dreams of his chance to play in the Super Bowl. It’s the peak of the sport and an event that many players never have the opportunity to participate in before the end of their careers. So, when faced with the possibility, it’s no wonder most players would do almost anything to be out on that field.
As part of ESPN’s ongoing NFL Nation survey, polling 320 players from around the league on a variety of topics, 85 percent (272 votes) of players say they would play in the Super Bowl even if they had a concussion.
Washington Redskins linebacker
Fletcher played in two Super Bowls during his 16-year NFL career, even winning one during his second season, says he would still try to play through a concussion in order to play in the big game. Although, he acknowledged that some of the symptoms are just too severe to overcome.
“If it’s something where I’m having just a few symptoms and can hide it from the trainer, then yeah, I would do it,” Fletcher said. “With some of them, you get in a game and you can’t play.”
The NFL instated new concussion protocol ahead of the 2013 season, requiring teams to put players through standard concussion tests if there was any indication of a potential head injury during the game. The league also mandated that players must pass certain tests in weeks after suffering a concussion in order to return to practices and games.
While the majority of players clearly side with Fletcher on the issue, considering the final poll numbers, some players do appreciate the league’s commitment to player safety and wouldn’t put themselves at risk, even for a chance to play in the Super Bowl.
Green Bay Packers running back Eddie Lacy, who missed a game during the regular season due to a concussion, called it a “serious injury” and cast doubt over whether he’d risk further injury by coming back too quick.
“It depends on if I was able to focus,” Lacy said. “Then I would probably play or go back in. But that’s a serious injury to play with, so I probably wouldn’t chance it.”
As for New Orleans Saints tackle Zach Strief, who granted already won a Super Bowl (XLVI), the concussion protocol is apparently very important to him, and he noted that he wouldn’t want to jeopardize his team or his future.
“I wouldn’t come back into a game dizzy or nauseous,” Strief said. “You’re not going to help your team any if you come back in all messed up. The old ‘you got your bell rung’ mentality has to change. I would never do something I felt was risking something that would be permanent or affected me down the road.”
While so many players clearly aren’t entirely concerned with their own safety, at least when it comes to achieving Super Bowl glory, the majority of players do believe the NFL is committed to player safety, with 60 percent (192 players) favoring with the league’s direction on the matter.