Jeff Hartings played 11 years in the NFL with the Detroit Lions and the Pittsburgh Steelers and was a All-Pro two times and won a Super Bowl ring with the Steelers in 2005. The seriousness of concussions has evolved over time since he played. When he played concussions weren’t considered a serious injury and players would do anything to stay on the field and hide those symptoms.
Now as a coach he sees the other side of concussions and how it impacts players. Hartings went on the Late Hits show on Sirius XM NFL radio to discuss his experience with concussions while attending the “Heads Up Football” symposium in Canton, Ohio.
He shared the reaction players, including himself, had when the NFL first started implementing concussion tests.
“We were talking about this impact concussion test,” Hartings said. “I remember it came out in ’05 or ’06, right when I was retiring basically and it was kind of a joke. Nobody really took it seriously. We just kind of complained about having to do it – faked our way through it.”
But as a coach he’s seen six or seven kids suffer concussions, one even had to spend a week in the hospital as a result of the injury.
“I think the publicity has helped the NFL and helped everyone come around and start teaching us about the significant impact a concussion can have on you long-term and short-term,” Hartings said.
“The other thing that I learned this week and through that experience is you have to take concussions seriously. It’s a part of the game. I don’t want to make a comparison to a sprained ankle but when a player sprains his ankle you sit him out. When he injures his brain, you need to sit him out and you’ve got to take that even more seriously and make sure when they come back they’re fully ready to come back.”
“If we handle these injuries the proper way, as a mother you have no reason to be concerned about your son playing football,” Hartings said. “As a matter of fact, I believe that the rewards far outweigh the risks.”