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Thursday, November 15, 2012
Brian Urlacher worried about knees

By Michael C. Wright
ESPNChicago.com

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher reiterated Thursday that he would lie to cover up a concussion, and he questioned the NFL's concern in regard to knee injuries due to legal blocks below the waist.

With talk of quarterback Jay Cutler possibly missing Monday's game with a concussion, Urlacher was asked whether he stood by his comments from January when he said he would try to conceal the effects of a possible concussion.

"Yeah," he replied. "There's a point in every game when you get hit and you're a little woozy," Urlacher said. "Not every game, but mostly every game you hit someone and you're like, 'Whoa, that was a good one.'

"I don't know how you can lie these days with all the crap they have to see who's concussed and who's not. I don't know how they can tell in the first place."

During a "Real Sports" segment on HBO in January, Urlacher said: "If I have a concussion these days, I'm going to say, 'Oh man, something happened to my toe or knee or something, I've got to come out for a few plays,' just to get your bearings back. I'm not going to sit in there and say 'I got a concussion. I can't go in for the rest of the game.'"

Cutler's status is in doubt for the game against the San Francisco 49ers after he suffered a concussion Sunday against the Houston Texans.

"I don't know what to make of it," Bears coach Lovie Smith said after practice. "I don't think players would cover up an injury. I didn't hear Brian say that."

Meanwhile, Urlacher said he thinks the league should do more about knee safety.

"I think they shouldn't allow cut blocks because our knees are important to us too," Urlacher said. "I know concussions are a big deal, too. But I think knee cut blocks are a big deal, but that seems to be OK with the NFL. So they're not too concerned about safety."

Urlacher acknowledged that the NFL's concern for the long-term health of its players is genuine, but the linebacker would like to see the league take a more aggressive stance toward the immediate future for players suffering knee injuries on questionable blocks that could potentially end their seasons.

"Immediately they're not concerned about your knees, your ankles or anything like that," Urlacher said. "I think that should be an issue. Concussions are taking care of themselves. It's a big deal now to everyone because of all the older players coming back and saying they're all messed up now. That's definitely an issue, but I think the cut block seems to be an issue as well."

Defensive end Israel Idonije agreed, and suggested the NFL’s rules are geared more toward protecting offensive players. To the NFL, defenses are "second-fiddle," Idonije said.

"That’s just the nature of the game," he added. "So hopefully the bodies that govern the rules and protections do a better job of taking the injuries that the players on defense consistently sustain, (that) they take those seriously and remove some of those elements from the game as well."

Urlacher made somewhat of a surprising distinction between the severity of a knee injury from a cut block and a concussion, calling the difference "huge because a knee injury puts you out for a season" while "a concussion, you may miss a game or two; huge difference."

The linebacker later acknowledged the long-term effects associated with repeated concussions.

"That’s why you’ve got to judge. If you get concussed, then don’t play. It’s your career, it’s your life," Urlacher said. "You have to make a decision on your own. Some guys have sat it down because of that. If I got concussed a lot, I probably wouldn’t keep playing. But I don’t. So I’m good."