Chicago Bears safety Chris Conte is willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for football.
Conte has been diagnosed with two concussions this season at a time when the NFL is taking a proactive approach to raising concussion awareness. But the four-year veteran hardly sounds concerned about the long-term health risks of playing in the NFL — even if it means an early grave.
“As far as after football, who knows? My life will revolve around football to some point, but I’d rather have the experience of playing and, who knows, die 10, 15 years earlier than not be able to play in the NFL and live a long life,” Conte said this week on WBBM Newsradio in Chicago. “It’s something I’ve wanted to do with my life and I wanted to accomplish. And I pretty much set my whole life up to accomplish that goal. So I don’t really look toward my life after football because I’ll figure things out when I get there and see how I am.”
Conte told ESPN.com’s Jeff Dickerson that his comments were in reference to the general health risks of playing in the NFL — not only concussions — and that he’s accepting of the fact that the life expectancy of someone who has played professional football is shorter than that of the average person. For Conte, injuries simply are part of the deal. And he’s certainly had plenty of them.
In addition to suffering two concussions, Conte has missed time this season due to a back injury, an eye injury and sprains of both shoulders, according to ESPN.com. He’s been sidelined for three games and has been unable to continue in seven of the 12 games he’s played.
“I’m fine with trading that risk for the opportunity to play football since it’s something I have always wanted to do and a dream come true,” Conte told ESPN.com on Wednesday. “Doing what I love outweighs risks despite injuries I have amounted this year.”
The startling reality is that Conte isn’t alone in his self-assessment. While Conte might have taken things to the extreme, many other players have noted that the potential dangers of playing in the NFL are part of the gig.
“As long as I outlive my parents, then we’ll be all right,” Conte said.
Thumbnail photo via Andrew Weber/USA TODAY Sports Images