Retired Super Bowl champ Dorsey Levens on impact of concussions in young players


Retired Super Bowl champion Dorsey Levens was interviewed by Isaiah Johnson, a current football player at Georgia Tech, about concussions suffered by amateur and professional football players. Levens is knowledgeable about concussive injuries because he has played the sport on all levels. Levens’ forthcoming documentary on the subject, “Bell-Rung,” details the devastating consequences of concussions. Read on for Levens’  take on when an injured player should throw in the towel and why athletes need to be educated about concussions.

Who has the right to take a player out of the game once they sustain a concussion?

The decision comes down to you. You may have some issues with your coaches if you come out, because the culture we’ve been raised in is that when you get your bell rung, you shake it off and go back in. I understand that because I used to do it, but I think players should think more about going back in the game because every bell-rung is a concussion. I talked to a line backer from Wake Forest who played on the practice squad for a year and a half. [He’s] 25 years old and already has dementia. Is it worth it? The decision is yours.

How can athletes become more aware of the short-term and long-term impact of concussions?

I would hope the NCAA would do something; have some talks with you guys about certain precautions. There are certain levels of concussions, the bell-rung we talked about is the one when you get up and shake it off. Then there’s the one when you don’t realize where you are, you have to take five to six plays off to get ready. Those are the ones that worry me more than the regular shake off concussions. The NCAA needs to come talk to you guys about the facts of  concussions.

Will the fans ever understand that the game will change because of the severity of concussions?

The fans will never understand, and at the end of the day, they probably don’t  even care. Let’s say Isaiah Johnson has dementia at age 30, the fans will say, “Isaiah used to be a fool when he used to play,” and that’s all they would care about. They care about being entertained during the game. You have to understand we are planets away from fans, because they don’t live in the same world we live in.

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