What Does a Concussion Feel Like for an NFL Player?

Unfortunately, we can’t discuss the most popular league in America without discussing growhaveing evidence that it’s dangerous. Once lauded for its cutthroat play, the NFL is reckoning with the fact that it often leaves people in far worse shape than they started due to concussions and other injuries.

NFL players have been more open about the impact of concussions. When they talk, people should take notice, even though it’s scary to learn what a concussion feels like.

What do concussions feel like?

“Until you’ve had a concussion, you really can’t know how it feels.” This is how former NFL player Thomas Jones describes it to BrainLine. He called concussions out-of-body experiences. Fans of Looney Tunes and other children’s cartoons recognize the picture of a character seeing stars when they’re hit over the head. This is what Jones said a concussion can do.

Black spots, double vision, light sensitivity, blackouts, and a loss of concentration plague a player shortly after a concussion, reports the Mayo Clinic. Sometimes, this put Jones in the zone — like he had a remote control to himself. Other times he paid the price. Despite athletic achievements, a concussion’s impact on the brain is scary. Jones described a time he was barely able to remember a game the same night he played.

Jones discussed the times he saw players lying on the ground, looking like their bodies were there but their souls had flown away. It’s a candid look at how the NFL can impact players. Jones has committed to donating his brain to scientific research when he dies. His concerns, however, are not the first of their kind.

NFL players’ early retirement

There is no denying the violence built into the NFL’s DNA. But with reports that some helmet-to-helmet hits can have bigger impacts than a turning jet, it must be taken seriously. In 2015, Green Bay Packer Adrian Coxson abruptly retired from the NFL at just 24 years of age. He had a hard time putting into words the impact of a concussion.

“I worked hard all my life and I felt I was achieving my life-long goal,” he said per National Football Post. “Unfortunately, I got hit in the head in practice and it was really bad for me. I couldn’t describe how bad it is.”

This hard-to-describe cloudiness is a theme for players who discuss the impact of the game. Coxson went on to say, “I’m blessed to have my life right now. I’ll see how things work out as far as my health, but my health isn’t in tip-top shape right now because of the concussion.”

Taking concussions seriously

Roger Goodell has been criticized for not taking concussion protocol seriously, as Fox Business Reports. The NFL is constantly upgrading rules to address player safety. But there’s still a stigma that concussions are a sign of weakness. Tom Brady famously avoids talking about them himself. 

By speaking out on an important issue, Coxson and Jones show how important it is to take brain damage seriously. CTE is rampant in former NFL players, but it is often impossible to trace until the player is already dead. By more players speaking out, however, they help ensure that things are known before it is too late.