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Most players would play Super Bowl with concussion

The SportsXchange

In a survey of 320 NFL players, an ESPN poll indicated that 85 percent of them would play the Super Bowl with a concussion.

Former Baltimore Ravens safety Bernard Pollard summed up how many players feel. He sustained six broken ribs in last year's Super Bowl win over the San Francisco 49ers.

"We are competitors. We want to go out there and entertain. That's all we are. We're entertainers. Guys want to go out there," said Pollard, now with the Tennessee Titans. "They don't want to let themselves down. They don't want to let their teammates down. They want to go out there and play, not thinking about, 'OK, what can this affect later on down the line?' "

Washington Redskins linebacker London Fletcher has never missed a regular-season game in 16 seasons. When he was asked the survey question, his first comment was, "Did 100 percent say yes?"

However, Fletcher said it depends on the severity of the concussion. He missed a preseason game in 2012 after sustaining one.

"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," he said. "With some of them, you get in a game and you can't play."

Another Redskins player, who had a concussion in the past two years, did not comment on the record because he does not want to send the wrong message to youth football players.

Green Bay Packers rookie running back Eddie Lacy missed a game in 2013 with a concussion. He said the seriousness of the concussion would affect his decision to play.

"It depends on if I was able to focus," he 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."

The NFL has put more strict mandates in place to make it difficult for players with concussions to play. New Orleans Saints tackle Zach Strief said the protocol is important in determining whether a player is healthy enough to play -- even the Super Bowl.

"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."

Sixty percent of the players polled said the NFL is committed to player safety, citing the concussion protocol.

"They took tremendous steps toward the future of this game as far as violent hits, as far as protecting defenseless players, as far as concussion protocol," Redskins linebacker Brian Orakpo said. "I'm proud of the way they handle concussions. I'm proud of the way the NFL is going."

Fletcher is one player who does not agree with that, saying information has been withheld in the past by the league about concussions.

"Some of it's more to protect themselves from lawsuits," he said. "A lot of that is just to make themselves look right from a public opinion standpoint. I don't know if they're truly committed to player safety."

Pollard said the NFL is headed in the right direction regarding player safety but the risks involved will never change.

"This is a very violent sport, and you're just not going to cut down on that," he said. "You've got guys that are coming up every year that are bigger, stronger, faster, quicker. You're not going to stop these hard hits."

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