Calvin Johnson Says 'Of Course' He Hid Concussions from Lions Team Doctors

Joseph ZuckerFeatured ColumnistMay 21, 2017

DETROIT, MI - DECEMBER 27:  Calvin Johnson #81 of the Detroit Lions looks on from the field during the game against the San Francisco 49ers at Ford Field on December 27, 2015 in Detroit, Michigan. The Lions defeated the 49ers 32-17.  (Photo by Mark Cunningham/Detroit Lions/Getty Images)
Mark Cunningham/Getty Images

Former Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson admitted to concealing potential concussions he suffered during his playing career.

"Asked Saturday whether he ever concealed [a concussion] from team doctors, Johnson said, 'Of course,'" according to the Detroit Free PressDave Birkett.

"Guys get concussions, they don't tell the coaches," Johnson said, per Birkett. "It happens. I don't tell the coach sometimes cause I know I got a job to do. The team needs me out there on the field. And sometimes you allow that to jeopardize yourself, but that's just the nature of the world."

Johnson said he also kept Lions team doctors in the dark regarding any concussion-like symptoms he may have felt.

“They’re going to dispute that, but anytime you black out, anytime you hit the ground and everything is stars and stuff, any time your brain hits your skull, that’s a concussion,” Johnson said. “No matter how severe it is, it’s a concussion. Now granted, some people get nausea. That’s a severe concussion when you get hit like that and you get nausea and stuff like that. But if you play football long enough (you’re going to have concussions).”

Johnson's comments come after Gisele Bundchen gave an interview with CBS This Morning in which she said her husband, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, suffered an unreported concussion during the 2016 season:

According to NFL.com's Austin Knoblauch, the number of reported concussions in the NFL fell from 275 in 2015 to 244 in 2016.

While the league has taken steps to increase awareness of head injuries and devise ways to help recognize them, the NFL concussion protocol hasn't eliminated the problem completely.

In the Miami Dolphins' AFC Wild Card Round defeat to the Pittsburgh Steelers, quarterback Matt Moore absorbed a big hit from Steelers linebacker Bud Dupree in the second quarter. Moore returned to the game a play later. 

Following an examination of the incident, the NFL found the Dolphins didn't properly follow protocol before determining Moore could get back on the field.

“Each year, you’ve got to talk about it more and more, you’ve got to have programs,” Johnson said. “You’re doing these camps, you’ve got to talk about concussion awareness. But the biggest thing I told them, concussions, they happen in football, it’s part of football. The biggest thing is rest. If you feel like you’ve got a concussion, if you don’t know, if you take the test whatever, if you feel like you’ve got a concussion, the biggest thing is rest, man. Cause you usually compound your injury so much if you go back out there, and we all know that now.”

With unreported concussions becoming a story around Johnson and by extension Brady, the league may re-evaluate its current concussion protocol and consider tweaking it to ensure head injuries are properly addressed.