Despite some high-profile injuries and former 49ers player Chris Borland's departure from the league over health concerns, Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski believes that he would still prefer a concussion to a torn ACL.
Appearing on Showtime's Jim Rome Show on Wednesday, the football player made some jokes about whether he would prefer a concussion or knee injury. The tight end acknowledged that while a concussion may keep him out of play for a time period, a torn ACL could potentially end a season.
Here's his exchange with Rome (which elicited much laughter from the audience):
Gronkowski: So, if we're sitting here and I had to choose, would I take a concussion right now or would I want my knee blown out, I'm gonna say a concussion.
Gronkowski: Yeah. Why would I want to sit there for eight months and not do anything when, with a concussion, I'll just wake up and I'll be ready to go again.
Rome: But what if, for instance, as a result of that concussion or more, you're 50, and all of a sudden, like some of these guys, you get on a plane and you can't remember where you're going, or you're driving around a neighborhood that you've been in a million times and you can't remember how to get home?
Gronkowski: That happens all the time. I mean I don't even know how I got to my hotel last night.
In December 2013, Gronkowski suffered both a concussion and a right knee injury, tearing both his ACL and MCL (the latter injury cutting short his season).
He eventually returned for the 2014 season and that same year, Gronkowski said that it's "pretty obvious" he would prefer a concussion with a quicker return-to-play than long-term rehabilitation for a knee injury.
ESPN's Colin Cowherd expressed similar views on his program on Wednesday, according to SportsGrid.
“Here’s what we know about knee injuries -- you’re done,” Cowherd said. “With knee injuries, it’s over. Income, over. Income is over.”
The host also said that he would take two or three concussions before a severe knee injury, but drew the line at four.
While the NFL has faced a lot of questions and concerns over the safety of the sport, and many have said there is a link, questions remain about the exact effects of repetitive brain trauma. However, some players, such as Chris Borland, have left the league, not wanting to take the risk.
The NFL doesn't have a set timeframe for players to return to the field after a concussion. On its website, the leagues says that's because each concussion is different. The decision as to whether a player can return to a game or practice is left to each team's head physician, but must also be confirmed by an independent neurological consultant.
For many players, the health risks associated with the game are just part of the package. Late in 2014, Chris Conte, who at the time was a safety for the Chicago Bears, told a radio station that playing in the league was worth possibly shortening his lifespan.
"I'd rather have the experience of playing in the NFL and die 10 to 15 years earlier than not play in the NFL and have a long life," said Conte, who signed a one-year contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in March. "I don't really look toward my life after football. I'll figure things out when I get there."