More and more, current and former football players are becoming aware of the dangers of multiple concussions and brain trauma. Thursday’s news that researchers found Stage 3 CTE (Stage 4 is the most severe) in Aaron Hernandez’s brain even though he was only 27 years old when he died in April has set off a new round of news stories, opinion pieces, and discussion around the dangers of football and what it might be doing to its participants long-term.
Hall of Fame receiver Cris Carter, whose words have gotten him in some trouble in the past, had some poignant thoughts on Friday morning on FS1’s “First Things First,” and helped illustrate the conflict many players face when it comes to their love of the game, the benefits it can provide, and the real concerns over their health.
Carter began by noting the recent findings by researchers in Boston, who discovered signs of CTE in the brains of 110 of 111 deceased former NFL players (brains have to be donated for examination, making it an unorthodox study in that there isn’t a control group), saying he was “shocked” by those results.
But then he got more personal, and it was clear that he’s in a confusing place in terms of his love of the game and what it gave him, and his fears for his future and that of his friends.
“It’s hard for me, because ever since I can really, really remember, this is what I wanted to do,” Carter said. “But now, as a former player – I’ve never really had any other job besides sports. I played football (in the NFL) 16 years, I’ve been in television 16 years, talking about sports, talking about football. I’ve taught so many kids football, I coached a little league team, traveled, playing football, coached a high school team – we’ve got 11 kids playing in the NFL today.
“To me, I wonder: what’s going to happen? Like, what’s going to happen to my generation? I’ve had teammates who have killed themselves, Andre Waters, a teammate of mine in Philadelphia. I’ve had good friends of mine, Junior Seau, Dave Duerson – great men, guys that have done tremendous things in their community, all of a sudden they became violent and took their own lives. So I worry. I worry what my future is.”
.@criscarter80: Yes, I’m scared but football has given me everything I love.
— FOX Sports (@FOXSports) September 22, 2017
Carter, who is now 51-years-old and ended his 16-year career in 2002 with the Miami Dolphins, said he didn’t have any recorded concussions during his time in the NFL and hasn’t shown any signs of traumatic brain injury.
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“But I would say there is some type of fear; fear of the unknown,” Carter said. “But I sit here, conflicted, because with all the information I have, I wouldn’t change a thing.”
Carter speaks for several minutes, and in our opinion, the entire video, above, is worth watching, as Carter outlines that football gave him a sense of purpose and meaning, and even gave his mother a sense of accomplishment, as the success of Carter and his older brother, Butch, who played in the NBA for several years, meant their mother could attend college.