Del Rio on concussions and battle scars

August, 25, 2011
8/25/11
4:59
PM ET
Defensive end Jeremy Mincey suffered a concussion at practice Wednesday, so he won’t travel with the Jaguars to Buffalo.

The injury prompted a discussion about concussions between the local media and Jack Del Rio, who was an NFL linebacker for 11 years.

Del Rio said he’s all for increased player safety and awareness of concussions. In no way was he suggesting a guy should attempt to play through a head injury.

But he did talk about how times have changed, how he knew he’d carry some issues into life after football and how players are hardly the only ones with issues later in life.

He said he was not diagnosed with a concussion as a player.
“When I played you entered camp with a headache and you didn’t stop having a headache until the season ended,” he said. “It was a different era. Now if you just got a little bit of a headache it’s an issue, so it’s different for sure. But again I’m not a doctor, I’m a coach. I’m going to coach the guys that we get. I’m going to lean on the doctors to do what they’re experts in and what they’re paid to do and just operate like that …”

“I pretty much know that I’ve got some things that I played with that I consider kind of like battle scars. You’ve got shoulder and fingers and knees and things that if you walked around you know you have them but you also know that you gave it up on Sundays, and a certain part of me kind of takes pride in that. And our guys today do the same thing, but where there has been progress made in this area we’re trying to address it the best we can and I’m just trying to do my part within how things have been laid out and what my role is and I’ll follow that to the letter. I’ll do everything I need to do that’s appropriate to help our guys ...”

“Twenty years down the road we’re all going to have trouble. Go back to a high school reunion; look at your buddies, that’s part of aging. You’re going to have trouble when you get older. I think we all do. Football is not the only slice of life where that occurs. There are some rugged guys out there that do all kinds of different things for a living, including men and women that protect our country. I would say a large part of that I understood as a player going in that was kind of the way it was going to be, but I embraced it.”

Del Rio’s last season was 1995. It’s somewhat amazing to think of how much things have changed in terms of concussion-awareness and player safety issues just 16 seasons later.

Paul Kuharsky | email

ESPN Tennessee Titans reporter

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