Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Namath says if he had known then what he knows now about the effects of concussions, he would have never played football.
Namath was asked by WPBF-TV if he would still play the game knowing what he has learned over the years about the effects of brain injuries.
"No," he said. "I hate to say that because if I had a child who wanted to play I'd let them play ... but I'd wait 'til he developed a little more.
"I suffered several 'get-your-bell-rung' hits ... whether you hit the ground and get your bell rung or get hit by a forearm several times," Namath added. "Of course, going back to high school even.”
Namath said he started to have some memory problems about three years ago and decided to get it checked out by a doctor after he worried about a former New York a href="/nfl/team/new-york-jets">Jets teammate Dave Herman who was diagnosed with a brain injury after repeated blows to the head.
When he went to receive the brain scans, doctors found that Namath was not getting oxygen to the part of the brain that deals with word recognition, short term memory and sleep.
So, Namath became part of a clinical trail in Jupiter, Florida which studied how effective hyperbaric oxygen therapy was treating brain injuries that resulted from sports, vehicle accidents, strokes and other accidents.
Namath spent a total of 120 sessions inside a hyperbaric oxygen chamber five days a week for seven months. Namath says he saw improvement over time because of the treatments.
"The scans are beautiful. and I really feel like I've gotten sharper," he said. "I feel better than ever."
Last week, a federal judge approved a class-action concussion lawsuit settlement for more than 4,500 former NFL players who sued the league, claiming they were not told about the effects of brain-related injuries due to playing football.
The settlement includes a $10 million education fund "to promote safety and injury prevention for football players of all ages," and payments of up to $5 million for those diagnosed with ALS.
Namath said in 2013 that the NFL was responsible for the safety of the players, the settlement amount was not nearly enough and that many of his fellow teammates and opponents had no idea about concussions.
- Scooby Axson