The 50-year-old former quarterback, who retired in 2005 after a 15-year NFL career, discusses his concussion history, CTE and whether he would let his sons play football.
MAGGIE GRAY: The NFL just came out and acknowledged that yes, there is a connection between playing football and CTE. How many concussions did you have in your career?
RODNEY PEETE: At least eight that were documented. When I played in the late '80s, '90s and 2000s, there wasn't a concussion protocol like there is now. It was just, "How do you feel? How many fingers do I have up? Are you good enough to go back in the game?" It was the player's decision, and most often, a player is going to say, "Yeah, I'm good. I'm ready to go back in." Looking back on it now, it's scary, but this revelation was a long time coming. Now everybody knows. It's not just football: It's contact to the brain that's going to cause problems later on.
April 4, 2016
MG: Do you think you and your wife [Holly] would be less likely to let your kids play a contact sport because of what you now know?
RP: That's a sensitive topic in our house. I don't want to sound hypocritical because football has done so much for me, and it has brought me so much joy. I often get asked if I would still choose to play football knowing what I know now and I always say, "Yes." The excitement, the passion, everything it brought me was great. But would I let my kids play? That's a tough one. Thank God they have gravitated toward baseball and basketball so I don't have to make that choice. But the main thing is that with [improvements to] equipment, the game has become safer. There is no way around the contact or the injuries that are going to happen. It's a violent sport.
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"Would I let my kids play knowing what I know now? That's a tough one."
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