Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu revealed on Wednesday’s Dan Patrick Show that he has lied about sustaining concussions as an NFL player to get back into a game, and said playing a “tough man’s game” is what makes it so popular.
In response to Patrick asking him whether he has lied to get back into a game, Polamalu said:
“Yes I have,” Polamalu said. “There’s so much built up about team camaraderie and sacrifice and football is such a tough mans game. I think that’s why it’s so popular. That’s why so many blue collar communities and people can really feel attracted to this because it is a blue collar struggle that football players go through.”
He said that the idea is to “just push yourself to be out there with your brothers.” He estimates having suffered eight or nine concussions throughout his career, and he expects the number will be higher by the time he retires. If players count every little “buzz” as a concussion, he said, the number would more likely be 50 to 100.
The NFL schedule is grueling, he said, and there’s a pressure to play every week despite perhaps being legitimately injured:
“You feel sore, you’re beat up, you’re injured, you’re legitimately injured, most people may take three months off to work in an office, we choose to play the next week.”
He said that while he has no doubt lied about suffering head injuries so that he wouldn’t have to miss playing time, in cases where the concussion is severe, “you can’t even be conscious enough to lie.”
Concussions have long been an issue for the NFL, but it is an especially sensitive topic now for the league given the recent scandal involving the New Orleans Saints’ bounty program.