Minnesota tight end John Carlson has suffered three known concussions in six NFL seasons and another two playing collegiately at Notre Dame.
The last one came two weeks ago in Baltimore when he was slammed face first into the frozen turf. He missed last week's game against the Eagles after failing to pass the NFL's concussion protocol, but passed the necessary steps to return to practice on Wednesday.
But he didn't feel well on Thursday, and on Saturday the team announced it had placed Carlson on injured reserve, thus ending his season.
Now the 29-year-old is pondering whether he has played his last NFL game.
“That’s something that my wife and I will consider,” he told Chip Scoggins of the Minneapolis Star Tribune on Friday before being put on IR. “After every season it’s an evaluation period because of the nature of our business. Players move around, players get cut, coaches get fired, things happen. So in that sense, every year is an evaluation period, and this year will be no different. And the concussion part of it will be in that conversation.
“We have two kids and a third one on the way,” he said. “I’m taking steps to mitigate the risks. [But] there are risks to playing football.”
Carlson, a second-round pick of the Seahawks in 2008, signed a five-year, $25 million contract with the Vikings in 2012. The Minnesota native has 1,906 career receiving yards and 14 touchdowns. He also had two touchdown catches in a playoff win over the Saints in 2010, then was knocked unconscious in a loss to the Bears the next week.
“I don’t know that anyone has a magic bullet,” he said about the concussion issue in the NFL. “It’s something that’s kind of evolving over time and as they research it more, I’m sure they will have better ways to treat concussions down the road. But I don’t think you can make the game safer to the point that there aren’t going to be concussions, because it’s a physical game by nature. They take away helmet-to-helmet hits, but if you hit your head on the ground, what are you going to do? Penalize the guy for that? Pretty soon it’s not football anymore.”