Troy Polamalu: I've hid concussions

Updated: July 18, 2012, 3:58 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

With the NFL set to face scores of concussion-related lawsuits from thousands of former players, Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu admitted Wednesday that he's lied about head injuries in the past in order to remain on the field.

Polamalu When you get your bell rung they consider that a concussion -- I wouldn't ... If that is considered a concussion, I'd say any football player at least records 50 to 100 concussions a year.

-- Steelers safety Troy Polamalu

"Yes, I have, for sure," Polamalu told the Dan Patrick Show, also noting that he has chosen to continue playing injured in games when the team's medical staff would tell him not to.

Polamalu said he didn't tell any "major lies" when it comes to concussions, but explained that football players see a distinction between a hit to the head that completely removes you from play and a lighter one that doctors view as a concussion.

"I've had, I believe, eight or nine recorded concussions. We'll have another conversation after I'm done playing football," Polamalu told the show. "When you get your bell rung they consider that a concussion -- I wouldn't ... If that is considered a concussion, I'd say any football player at least records 50 to 100 concussions a year."

The four-time All-Pro related it to a knee injury that a player can get through.

"Somebody may say, 'Is your knee messed up?' It may be kind of messed up but you just kind of push yourself to be out there with your brothers," Polamalu said. "I wouldn't say there are any major lies where I totally lied my way out of concussions. In fact, during concussions, if it's serious enough you can't even be conscious enough to lie."

More than 2,400 retired NFL players are now plaintiffs against the league, claiming the NFL knew repeated concussions could lead to brain damage and yet hid the information.

But Polamalu is the latest current player to admit being willing to hide a head injury. Bears Pro Bowl linebacker Brian Urlacher admitted in February he also would lie about a concussion to stay on the field.

Polamalu, who started all 16 games last season, said he's willing to conceal a concussion because of the commitment players make to their teammates and the sport.

"There's so much built up about team camaraderie and sacrifice, and football is such a tough man's game," Polamalu told the Dan Patrick Show. "I think that's why it's so popular, why so many blue-collar communities and people feel really attracted to it, because it's sort of a blue-collar struggle that football players go through in terms of the physicality of the game and the commitment you need. ... It's that commitment you need to play football. You feel sore, you're beat up, you're injured, you're legitimately injured, most people may take three months off to work in an office, we choose to play the next week."

Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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