Most NFL Players Would Keep Their Heads in the Game, Even With a Concussion

An ESPN poll shows what players will do, if push comes to shove.

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Paul Kitagaki Jr. / Sacramento Bee / ZUMA PRESS

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith is tackled by St. Louis Rams outside linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar on a four yard gain in the first quarter of their game at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, Nov. 11, 2012. Smith had a concussion from the play.

Concussions wouldn’t keep the world’s best football players out of the world’s biggest football game.

That’s according to a new ESPN poll, which found that a whopping 85 percent of players surveyed anonymously would play in the Super Bowl even if they had a concussion. The poll anonymously surveyed 320 players.

San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis played in last year’s Super Bowl despite re-breaking his ribs in the game’s first play, and he told ESPN that he would have done the same even with a concussion. In recent years, debate surrounding the dangerous link between football and serious head injuries has become a hotly debated issue, and the league has made it harder for players showing concussion symptoms to get back into games. Last year, former college players sued the NCAA for not informing them of concussion risks inherent in the sport. And in January, a judge rejected a proposed $765 million settlement between thousands of former players and the NFL over head injuries, saying the money might not be enough to cover all of the players’ medical care.

Even though the NFL has started administering regular tests that make it difficult for players to play with a concussion, the poll shows that when push comes to shove, players would go to a big game in spite of health risks.

“This is a very violent sport, and you’re just not going to cut down on that,” Pollard said. “You’ve got guys that are coming up every year that are bigger, stronger, faster, quicker. You’re not going to stop these hard hits.”