Packers Hall of Famer speaks out about concussions
WAUSAU (WAOW) -
Packers Hall of Famer LeRoy Butler is one of more than a thousand players suing the NFL about concussions. Butler said getting hurt is part of the game, but there's more to be done to keep players safe.
"Some of these guys back in the 50's and 60's, the helmets that they had, I'm surprised they didn't have more concussions," said Butler. "But when you see a guy like Junior Seau take his life and they think maybe a concussion had something to do with it, it makes you think, what can we do to prevent that?"
After this week's news about Junior Seau -- a former San Diego Chargers star who apparently took his own life -- new questions are being raised about football safety. Seau's family will donate his brain for research on concussions. Authorities said he was found dead at his home on Wednesday. An autopsy shows he shot himself in the chest.
"The word concussion, I really didn't hear that a whole lot while I was playing," said Butler. "You heard things like your bell was just rung or you had a stinger. Or hey you need to just get back out there, you're fine. And sometimes a guy gets out in front of you and you count to ten and you can go back in the game."
Butler said he's probably had his fair share of concussions while playing for the NFL -- although some may not have been officially diagnosed. Even though there is no medical confirmation of concussions in Seau's case, some said they're not ruling it out.
"You can't take head injury, head impact out of football," said ABC's chief medical editor Dr. Richard Besser. "Even with the best helmet you're going to have a head that's moving quickly that stops suddenly and that's a bad thing."
"You're going to get hit in the head," said Butler. "This is football. There's no safe way to play football. You're designed to go out there and to take hits, especially on the defense."
The NFL put new rules into effect about concussions in 2010. At a press conference in February, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said, "We have done a great deal in trying to address issues that are specific to our former players. We will always make sure player health and safety is the No. 1 priority in the NFL. We are going to continue to do what we possibly can to help our retired players, the current players and future players by making the game safer."
"When Aaron Rodgers got a concussion against Detroit, he wasn't able to play. The next week, he has a different helmet. Why everybody doesn't have that particular helmet? I don't know," said Butler.
Butler said players know what they're getting into by signing on with the NFL. But even though the risk is high, he said he's glad to see more precautions in place.
"As players, we're taught to always be tough and go out there and play but now the more education that you have, you know what actually happens," said Butler. "Now guys aren't so much rushing back into the game.
Despite the heartbreaking news of Seau's death, those who were close to him say they will remember him for being a strong leader -- on and off the field.