NBC Sports analyst Rodney Harrison has won two Super Bowl rings, made two Pro Bowl appearances and has been selected All-Pro four times.
He talks about health and safety issues frequently during his segments on Sunday Night Football. He will be part of the crew that broadcasts Sunday’s Super Bowl XLVII.
In an interview to be broadcast at 9 p.m. ET Thursday on “Costas Tonight on the NBC Sports Network,” Harrison talked to host Bob Costas about some of his own health concerns as a former player.
“I’m scared,” Harrison said. “I’m 40 years old and I am scared. … My first year, in 1994, one of the first weeks of training camp, I hit Natrone Means. He’s a 245-pound running back. I was knocked out. And not once in my first five or six years in the league did I even hear the word ‘concussion.’
“And even on the field playing, I would get up, hit someone, the entire stadium was spinning around, and I would walk to the sideline, they would hold me out for one play, give me two Advil, and tell me to get back into the game. The NFL, if they’re guilty of anything, it’s the lack of awareness that they brought and the lack of education. They never told us or explained to us or even let us know what a concussion was. I had no idea until just recently.
“And even since I retired from the Patriots in 2008, I would still experience headaches. I would play on Sunday and I would experience headaches up until Tuesday and Wednesday. And even now, at times there’s a sense of loneliness, a sense of isolation. Some anxiety problems. …
“It’s tough and people have to understand that these players — yeah, a lot of their agendas, it’s based on money — but a lot of these players are really, really suffering, Bob, and this stuff is for real because I’m experiencing it now. I’m scared to death. I have four kids, I have a beautiful wife, and I’m scared to death what may happen to me 10, 15 years from now.”
– Bill Bradley, contributing editor