Brett Favre's status as the NFL's ironman came with a dark side, as he explained in a recent podcast.
During an appearance on "The Bubba Army" radio show this week, the Green Bay Packers Hall of Famer was asked how many serious head injuries he sustained during his 20-season professional career. Favre's response, as found by TMZ, was to note he previously believed the answer to be three before learning a broader definition of a concussion.
Favre's updated estimate: thousands.
His full response:
"The thing about concussions is we still don’t know a lot about them. If you had asked me this 10 years ago, how many concussions I had, I would have said three. The reason I would have said three, I thought concussions were where you get knocked out, where you black out, for a period of time you don’t know where you are, memory loss, dizzy. A boxer gets knocked and tries to get up, his legs are rubber. That’s a concussion.
"What we now know is concussions happen all the time. You get tackled and your head hits the turf, you see the flashes of light or ringing in your ears, but you’re able to play.
"So, based on that, thousands. Had to be, because every time my head hit the turf, there was ringing or stars going, flash bulbs, but I was still able to play. That’s what’s kind of frightening about the concussion thing. It’s the ones that seem minor that do the damage, because you’re able to keep going, and still today, there’s probably guys that have them, they’re ‘I’m not going out.’"
The scariest part is Favre is probably not alone in receiving an alarming number of dazing hits, both among his peers at the time and, as he notes, current players.
Favre's NFL career spanned from 1991 to 2010, spent mostly with the Green Bay Packers plus shorter stints with the Atlanta Falcons, New York Jets and Minnesota Vikings. His longevity was legendary, starting an NFL-record 297 consecutive games (321 if you count playoffs) and retiring as the NFL's all-time passing yards and passing touchdowns leader.
That longevity led to enormous physical punishment, especially given Favre's notorious aversion to throwing the ball away. He was sacked 525 times in his career, third-most among quarterbacks in NFL history.
His final NFL game ended in a concussion, with a rough sack from the Chicago Bears leaving him facedown and motionless for several seconds. His reaction as he walked off the feel, as he recalls: "What are the Bears doing here?"