In many ways, Fletcher’s admission waived his own right to ever sue the league. In fact, his candor and authenticity could almost be used by an NFL defense attorney against 4,000 plaintiffs.
Asked by reporters if he worried for his long-term health, he replied, “Sure, but also, I signed up for this. Nobody made me play this game. I fell in love with the game of football when I was probably 5, 6 years old, and remember watching the games on television and just really love the game of football, and I’ve been in love with this game, pretty much my whole life. Would I change anything? Not really. You pray for the best as far as the situation down the line.
“Again, having more information now, especially with how there’s protocol with the concussion situation, there’s a protocol the league has taken to help players, but at the end of the day, we have to be smart as players and protect ourselves from ourselves. I know I’ve been guilty of needing them to protect me from me because I don’t tell them everything from an injury standpoint.”
Like a NASCAR driver who understands every turn at 200 mph could be his last, there is an inherent, I-knew-this-job-was-deadly-dangerous-when-I-took-it logic.
Fletcher’s raw desire is what enraptures coaches and fans, makes them all want to drop Dez Bryant cold on a crossing route.
The problem is they don’t have to walk around not remembering names and places and faces years later. Fletcher is the only person who physically pays for his silence, for keeping sacred the sport’s outdated manly vows.
I’ll give my friend this: His regret of not reporting his condition earlier to the team sounded genuine. And the excuse he gave about coming into the league at a different time, when seeing stars after a vicious hit was of no concern to anyone, was valid.
Now here’s hoping that an old-school player from little John Carroll University, who somehow remained contemporary at his position for parts of three decades, is able to remain contemporary in a safety-obsessed league — one that will soon pay untold millions to retired players who wished they had the same knowledge of concussions now available to London Fletcher.
For more by Mike Wise, visit washingtonpost.com/wise.