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

Cincinnati - LP: M. Latos 4 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: B. Norris 5
Boston - WP: J. Kelly 9 FINAL
NY Yankees - LP: S. Greene 4
Detroit - WP: P. Coke 4 FINAL
Cleveland - LP: C. Allen 2
NY Mets - WP: J. Niese 8 FINAL
Miami - LP: B. Penny 6
Philadelphia - WP: K. Kendrick 4 FINAL
Atlanta - LP: M. Minor 0
Toronto - WP: R. Dickey 8 FINAL
Tampa Bay - LP: J. Hellickson 2
Milwaukee - LP: Y. Gallardo 1 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - WP: J. Arrieta 7
LA Angels - LP: C. Wilson 3 FINAL
Houston - WP: B. Peacock 8
Chicago WSox - WP: D. Webb 6 FINAL
Minnesota - LP: L. Oliveros 3
Texas - LP: M. Kirkman 1 FINAL
Kansas City - WP: J. Frasor 2
Pittsburgh - LP: J. Locke 4 FINAL
St. Louis - WP: A. Wainwright 6
San Francisco - WP: G. Kontos 12 FINAL
Colorado - LP: M. Belisle 7
Seattle - WP: J. Paxton 6 FINAL
Oakland - LP: S. Gray 5
Washington - LP: D. Fister 1 FINAL
Los Angeles - WP: C. Kershaw 4
Arizona - LP: B. Ziegler 1 FINAL
San Diego - WP: K. Quackenbush 2
Green Bay 9/4/14 7:30 PM
Seattle
Buffalo 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
New Orleans 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Atlanta
Minnesota 9/7/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Cleveland 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Jacksonville 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Oakland 9/7/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
Cincinnati 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
Washington 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Tennessee 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
New England 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Carolina 9/7/14 3:25 PM
Tampa Bay
San Francisco 9/7/14 3:25 PM
Dallas
Indianapolis 9/7/14 7:30 PM
Denver
NY Giants 9/8/14 6:10 PM
Detroit
San Diego 9/8/14 9:20 PM
Arizona
Miami-Florida 13 FINAL
(25) Louisville 31
Arizona 9/4/14 7:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Pittsburgh 9/5/14 6:00 PM
Boston College
Washington St 9/5/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
SMU 9/6/14 11:00 AM
North Texas
Fla Atlantic 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(2) Alabama
Buffalo 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Army
(24) Missouri 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Toledo
Arkansas State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Tennessee
(7) McNeese State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(19) Nebraska
Central Mich 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Akron 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
Western Ill 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(18) Wisconsin
(20) Kansas State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
(4) Oklahoma 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Tulsa
Western Ky 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
SC State 9/6/14 11:30 AM
(23) Clemson
Navy 9/6/14 12:00 PM
Temple
UAB 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Miss State
South Alabama 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Kent State
New Mexico St 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Colorado 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Fresno State 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Utah
(2) Eastern Wash 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Washington
(14) USC 9/6/14 2:30 PM
(13) Stanford
Ohio U 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Middle Tennessee 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Minnesota
Northern Ill 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Missouri State 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Ball State 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Iowa
Maryland 9/6/14 2:30 PM
So Florida
Eastern Mich 9/6/14 3:00 PM
Florida
Georgia Tech 9/6/14 3:00 PM
Tulane
(15) Ole Miss 9/6/14 3:30 PM
Vanderbilt
Old Dominion 9/6/14 5:00 PM
NC State
(7) Michigan State 9/6/14 5:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(17) Arizona State 9/6/14 6:00 PM
New Mexico
Louisiana Tech 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana
San Jose St 9/6/14 6:00 PM
(5) Auburn
East Carolina 9/6/14 6:00 PM
(21) So Carolina
Duke 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Troy
Idaho 9/6/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(15) Sam Houston St 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(12) LSU
Michigan 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(16) Notre Dame
Lamar 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(9) Texas A&M
Northwestern St 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
BYU 9/6/14 6:30 PM
Texas
Citadel 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(1) Florida State
San Diego St 9/6/14 7:00 PM
(21) North Carolina
Virginia Tech 9/6/14 7:00 PM
(8) Ohio State
Memphis 9/6/14 9:00 PM
(11) UCLA
Colorado State 9/6/14 9:15 PM
Boise State
Air Force 9/6/14 9:15 PM
Wyoming
Oregon State 9/6/14 9:30 PM
Hawaii
Texas Tech 9/6/14 10:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Toronto 12 FINAL
Hamilton 13
Edmonton 13 FINAL
Calgary 28
Brt Columbia 9/5/14 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Calgary 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Hamilton 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Saskatchewan 9/7/14 3:00 PM
Winnipeg
Minnesota 78 FINAL
Phoenix 96
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 Noon
Sep 14 - vs. New England Noon
Sep 21 - at New Orleans Noon
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pm
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pm
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit Noon
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo Noon
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay Noon
Nov 2 - vs. Washington Noon
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago Noon
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How many games will the Vikings win this season?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close