Lem Barney never would have played had he known of concussions

Lem Barney joined a large group of retired players who sued the NFL in Philadelphia federal court back in January.

The Hall of Fame cornerback for the Detroit Lions tells Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press that he’s been told he probably suffered “seven or eight” concussions during his playing career. The 66-year-old counts himself lucky that he doesn’t have any serious physical ailments at this point.

Barney describes being knocked out cold at Tiger Stadium for 30 minutes.

"I call it blessed," Barney said. "It's that type of game. It's a lethal game. Again, as I tell people, 'Do you miss the game, Lem?' And sincerely, I don't miss the game.

"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."

Barney, who finished playing in 1977, says concussion wasn’t even a term that was used during his playing days. It’s become a central topic now as the NFL faces the issue with current players while dealing with multiple lawsuits from retired players like Barney.

"I related concussions to boxers," Barney told Birkett. "I didn't put one and two together. You get KO'd on the (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."

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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune

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