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Lem Barney Wishes He'd Never Played In The NFL

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Normally I wouldn't bring this story up, because it doesn't bring up a Bears player or much Bears connection, but concussions are a devastating issue to the NFL. And when a player who made the Hall of Fame as a cornerback says that he wishes he'd never played in the NFL had he known about concussions, you have to stop and listen.

"If I look at the game now and I look back on it retrospectively, if I had another choice I'd never played the game, at all, in my life," he said. "Never. Never. From all-city, all-state, all-conference, all-American, seven times All-Pro, I'm in eight Hall of Fames, it wouldn't be. It would be golf or tennis. I'm serious. Very serious."

"(He) [Barney's opthalmologist] told me that he saw where I had at least seven or eight concussions," Barney said. "One (spot) was as large as a silver dollar, and he said, 'You were out for a long time.' And there was about 30 minutes that I was out -- down at Tiger Stadium playing against the Bengals. It was just amazing.

Barney played from '67-'77 as a Hall of Fame cornerback for the Lions, and in that era of athletics, next to nothing about concussions was known.

"I related concussions to boxers," he said. "I didn't put one and two together. You get KO'd on the football (field) like getting KO'd in the damn ring, it's a concussion. I didn't put that together because, again, no doctors from middle school through high school through college through the league called them concussions. They all called them dingers and stingers."

He was also asked about Jahvid Best, who had a pair of concussions last season, finished the season on IR, and so far isn't cleared to resume football activities.

"If he wants to play again, God bless him, but if he can come back and still be comprehensible and still be able to understand things and still live a real good life," Barney said. "I would tell him, if he's going to play, they've got to get some kind of special helmet for him because it's not going to take much longer if he keeps getting those dinger, stinger and bell-ringers as the boxers used to call them, or even the concussions, that he's going to be around here.

The same could probably be extended to our own Jay Cutler, who had his own concussion issues in the 2010 season and was linked to several other concussions suffered as a Vanderbilt Commodore. Aaron Rodgers also suffered a concussion that season and now wears Riddell's special helmet to reduce the chances of a concussion.