Johnson said he was concerned about the concussion issue before he retired. There were other parts of the interview that should cause concern, like Johnson talking about painkillers early in his career and saying “the team doctors and trainers they were giving them out like candy.”
The culture isn’t close to changing. There have been fixes, such as better player safety rules and a better understanding of concussions. But there will always be the fundamental challenge of players feeling a need to play through pain — whether they feel that pressure because they want to compete or because they’re worried about losing their job in a world of mostly non-guaranteed contracts — and of teams pressuring their star players like Johnson to play even if they’re banged up. It’s hard to imagine a time when that won’t be the case.
“The team doctor, the team trainers, they work for the team. And I love ’em, you know,” Johnson said in the “E:60” interview. “They’re some good people, you know. They want to see you do good. But at the same time, they work for the team, you know. They’re trying to do whatever they can to get you back on the field and make your team look good.”
Players are smarter about some of the dangers they face in their sport. Some, like former Baltimore Ravens offensive tackle Eugene Monroe, have been outspoken about issues like painkiller use (and it’s fair to assume teams probably don’t love when players become self aware). But there’s no way to get rid of the violence in the sport, and players are still willing to engage in behavior that is a severe risk to their long-term health just to play every Sunday. That will never be eliminated.
Johnson understood what he was putting his body through to play football, and he got out after nine seasons while he was still a top NFL receiver. He won’t be the last to step away at an early age, either.
You knew we couldn’t get through a July 4 holiday weekend without some weird NFL story.
Denard Robinson, the Jacksonville Jaguars running back and former Michigan star, was an unlikely candidate to create the weird story though. But he pulled it off.
At 4:20 a.m. Sunday, according to Jacksonville.com, Robinson and a female passenger crashed into a retention pond after going down an embankment. They were asleep at the time of the crash and had to be helped out of the vehicle. The driver’s side door of the car was submerged in water, the Jacksonville Fox affiliate reported, citing the police report.
This is a worrisome time for NFL teams — the July 4 weekend when a handful of players historically get in trouble just a few weeks before training camps open.
Such might be the case for Tampa Bay Buccaneers rookie Dominique Robertson, an undrafted offensive guard out of Division II West Georgia, who reportedly was shot early Thursday morning and later detained by police, according to a report in the Press Enterprise.