Dec. 20: Concussion history forces Vikings' Carlson to ponder NFL future

  • Article by: CHIP SCOGGINS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 4, 2014 - 11:25 PM

Vikings tight end evaluates inherent danger after each season.

 

John Carlson paused to consider a question about the number of concussions he has suffered in his football career, but he politely declined to give an answer.

“I’m going to pass on that,” he said.

This is a sensitive and serious subject for Carlson, the Litchfield, Minn., native and Vikings tight end. He has suffered three known concussions in six NFL seasons and, according to various reports, two additional ones during his college career at Notre Dame.

Carlson’s latest concussion occurred two weeks ago at Baltimore when he was slammed face first onto a frozen field. Carlson missed Sunday’s game against Philadelphia after failing to pass the NFL’s concussion protocol last week.

Carlson eventually passed the necessary steps to return and practiced Wednesday, but he didn’t feel well Thursday and was held out of practice. He must pass certain protocol again in order to be cleared to play Sunday at Cincinnati, according to coach Leslie Frazier.

In a post-practice conversation Wednesday, Carlson said he and his wife, Danielle, will discuss his concussion history in depth after the season, and he indicated that retirement might be an option.

“That’s something that my wife and I will consider,” he said. “After every season it’s an evaluation period because of the nature of our business. Players move around, players get cut, coaches get fired, things happen. So in that sense, every year is an evaluation period and this year will be no different. And the concussion part of it will be in that conversation.”

Carlson has suffered three concussions since 2011. He turns 30 in May, and he acknowledged that his family is concerned about his long-term health and quality of life.

“We have two kids and a third one on the way,” he said. “I’m taking steps to mitigate the risks. [But] there are risks to playing football.”

Carlson said he’s sought advice and “assistance” from medical experts on concussion-related issues throughout his career. He has tried to be proactive in learning more about the injury, but he stressed that football always will have inherent dangers.

“I don’t know that anyone has a magic bullet,” he said. “It’s something that’s kind of evolving over time and as they research it more, I’m sure they will have better ways to treat concussions down the road. But I don’t think you can make the game safer to the point that there aren’t going to be concussions because it’s a physical game by nature. They take away helmet-to-helmet hits, but if you hit your head on the ground, what are you going to do? Penalize the guy for that? Pretty soon it’s not football anymore.”

As a member of the Seattle Seahawks, Carlson was knocked unconscious after trying to leap over a Chicago Bears defender in a playoff game during the 2010 season. He was carted off the field and taken by ambulance to a hospital. He said he felt normal two days later.

Carlson said he experienced a headache with his latest concussion but didn’t suffer any memory loss.

“I didn’t really feel abnormal, but it’s a serious thing,” he said. “If you have any symptoms, it’s not something you want to rush back from.”

Carlson signed a five-year contract worth $25 million with the Vikings last offseason. He finally found a meaningful role in the offense in recent weeks after Pro Bowl tight end Kyle Rudolph suffered a season-ending foot injury.

But now he is dealing with his fifth career concussion.

“It’s a serious issue and it’s not something that I’m ignoring,” he said. “I wouldn’t be playing if I didn’t feel that it was safe within the realm of safety and football, if there is such a thing as safety. We understand that there are risks associated with playing this game.”

The NFL now operates in an age of concussion awareness after numerous cases of former players who are dealing with traumatic brain injuries came to light. Carlson said he understands the potential consequences he faces later in life because of his concussion history.

“I know some former players that played for 15 years that are in their 80s,” he said. “And we all know of guys that have degenerative brain disorders in their 40s. It’s a scary thing, but it’s one of the risks that we take playing football.”

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

NY Mets 3 FINAL
St. Louis 2
Pittsburgh 4 FINAL
Atlanta 2
Miami 7 FINAL
Washington 11
Detroit 4 FINAL
Philadelphia 4
Minnesota 6 FINAL
Baltimore 5
NY Yankees 7 FINAL
Houston 0
Tampa Bay 2 FINAL
Boston 3
Baltimore 4 FINAL
Toronto 2
Cincinnati 8 FINAL
LA Angels 6
Chicago Cubs 2 Top 8th Inning
Kansas City 0
Los Angeles 4 Bottom 6th Inning
San Francisco 6
Chicago WSox 4 FINAL
Cleveland 1
Milwaukee 0 Bottom 8th Inning
Oakland 6
Seattle 4 Top 8th Inning
San Diego 6
Texas 3 Bottom 6th Inning
Los Angeles 7
Colorado 8 Top 7th Inning
Arizona 6
Arizona 1 Bottom 8th Inning
Colorado 2
Houston 99 FINAL
Washington 91
LA Lakers 99 FINAL
Brooklyn 107
Minnesota 88 FINAL
New Orleans 110
Philadelphia 79 4th Qtr 6:02
Cleveland 80
Detroit 17 1st Qtr 5:55
Miami 11
LA Clippers 27 1st Qtr 2:56
Boston 18
Dallas 6:00 PM
Indiana
Memphis 6:00 PM
San Antonio
Oklahoma City 8:00 PM
Phoenix
Washington 5 FINAL
NY Rangers 2
Calgary 4 2nd Prd 6:08
Nashville 1
Boston 1 2nd Prd 7:03
Carolina 0
Detroit 4 2nd Prd 9:25
NY Islanders 5
Florida 1 2nd Prd 7:28
Ottawa 0
Anaheim 6:00 PM
New Jersey
Chicago 6:30 PM
Winnipeg
San Jose 6:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Michigan State 76 FINAL
Louisville 70
Gonzaga 38 2nd Half 12:54
Duke 41
Philadelphia 0 2nd Half 25:00
Chicago 1
Toronto FC 6:00 PM
Real Salt Lake
(7) Florida State 74 FINAL
(3) South Carolina 80
Villanova 70 FINAL
West Virginia 75
Michigan 69 FINAL
Southern Miss 60
Temple 48 2nd Half 9:18
Middle Tennessee 38
Siena 37 2nd Half 9:11
Louisiana 44
St Marys-CA 46 2nd Half 10:11
UCLA 62
(5) Baylor 7:30 PM
(2) Notre Dame
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina NoonX31-13
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets NoonX30-24 ot
Dec 14 - at Detroit 3:25 pmX16-14
Dec 21 - at Miami NoonX37-35
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago NoonX13-9

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: What should the Vikings do with Adrian Peterson?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close