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N.F.L. fans, people outside, they have no clue what goes on. This isn’t like playing Madden. This isn’t like being the popular kid in high school. When you do those things in the real world, and it don’t work out, you still have your health. The thing about football is you’re directly playing with your life, the quality of it and the longevity of it. The stakes are up there.
You ever been in a car crash? Done bumper cars? You know when that hit catches you off guard and jolts you, and you’re like, what the hell? Football is like that. But 10 times worse. It’s hell.
I got my first N.F.L. concussion against Green Bay, my rookie year. I jumped, and my feet got clipped, and I hit the ground face-first. Bang! No shoulders. No chest. Nothing. Just my face hit. I got up, and I had the punch-drunk feeling, seeing starbursts and feeling giddy. I knew where I was. I knew what was going on. I also knew I had my bell rung. I made tackles back to back, and I remember one coach saying, the way he’s playing right now, the concussion probably did him some good. I played the whole game.