In an interview with SI Now’s Maggie Gray, former NFL quarterback Jim McMahon criticized the NFL’s handling of brain injuries, comparing the league to the tobacco industry.
McMahon, who helped lead the 1985 Chicago Bears to a Super Bowl XX title, said he has spoken with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and the NFL Players’ Association about regularly checking players for head and neck injuries.
“I’m not trying to get rid of football,” McMahon told SI Now. “I just want people to get diagnosed properly. And that’s still not happening obviously.”
McMahon went on to say that the NFL has long been aware of potential dangers of football, such as neurodegenerative brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy.
“They’re just like big tobacco was back in the day. They denied, denied denied, and now the NFL is doing the same thing. But thank God somebody spoke up and they know there’s a link between CTE and traumatic brain injuries,” McMahon said. “I’m tired of these guys killing themselves and seeing these guys in such poor shape because they’re not diagnosed properly.”
McMahon added that injuries are always going to be a part of the sport, but the potential effects football has on the brain are “scary.”
McMahon sustained numerous injuries throughout his career, and he has been outspoken about his own struggles with head trauma. He also spoke to Gray about his former use of painkillers.
McMahon spent 15 seasons in the NFL, playing the first seven the Bears.