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

San Francisco - WP: J. Affeldt 3 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: J. Guthrie 2
New Orleans 7:25 PM
Carolina
Tampa Bay 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland
Arizona 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Dallas
Philadelphia 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Houston
NY Jets 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Jacksonville 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
San Diego 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Washington 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
St. Louis 11/2/14 3:05 PM
San Francisco
Denver 11/2/14 3:25 PM
New England
Oakland 11/2/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Baltimore 11/2/14 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Indianapolis 11/3/14 7:30 PM
NY Giants
Milwaukee 106 FINAL
Charlotte 108
Philadelphia 91 FINAL
Indiana 103
Atlanta 102 FINAL
Toronto 109
Brooklyn 105 FINAL
Boston 121
Washington 95 FINAL
Miami 107
Chicago 104 FINAL
New York 80
Minnesota 101 FINAL
Memphis 105
Detroit 79 FINAL
Denver 89
Houston 104 FINAL
Utah 93
Golden State 95 FINAL
Sacramento 77
LA Lakers 99 FINAL
Phoenix 119
Oklahoma City 89 FINAL
Portland 106
Detroit 4 FINAL
Washington 2
Nashville 4 FINAL
Edmonton 1
(2) Florida State 6:30 PM
Louisville
Troy 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
Cincinnati 10/31/14 7:00 PM
Tulane
Tulsa 10/31/14 7:02 PM
Memphis
Air Force 11/1/14 10:30 AM
Army
ULM 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Texas A&M
(19) Oklahoma 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
Northwestern 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Iowa
(24) Duke 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Maryland 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
Wisconsin 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers
Rice 11/1/14 11:00 AM
FIU
(21) East Carolina 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Temple
UCF 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Connecticut
Boston College 11/1/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
North Carolina 11/1/14 11:30 AM
Miami-Florida
Washington 11/1/14 12:00 PM
Colorado
Central Mich 11/1/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
Western Mich 11/1/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Western Ky 11/1/14 2:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
NC State 11/1/14 2:00 PM
Syracuse
Virginia 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Georgia Tech
Purdue 11/1/14 2:30 PM
(17) Nebraska
BYU 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Middle Tennessee
(10) TCU 11/1/14 2:30 PM
(20) West Virginia
Indiana 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Florida 11/1/14 2:30 PM
(9) Georgia
Georgia State 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Appalachian St
Kentucky 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Kansas 11/1/14 3:00 PM
(12) Baylor
Texas State 11/1/14 3:00 PM
New Mexico St
Houston 11/1/14 3:00 PM
So Florida
USC 11/1/14 3:30 PM
Washington St
Arkansas State 11/1/14 4:00 PM
Idaho
South Alabama 11/1/14 4:00 PM
Louisiana
New Mexico 11/1/14 4:30 PM
UNLV
UAB 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
(4) Auburn 11/1/14 6:00 PM
(7) Ole Miss
Old Dominion 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Colorado State 11/1/14 6:00 PM
San Jose St
Arkansas 11/1/14 6:15 PM
(1) Miss State
Stanford 11/1/14 6:30 PM
(5) Oregon
Tennessee 11/1/14 6:30 PM
So Carolina
Texas 11/1/14 6:30 PM
Texas Tech
Southern Miss 11/1/14 7:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
(6) Notre Dame 11/1/14 7:00 PM
Navy
Oklahoma State 11/1/14 7:00 PM
(11) Kansas State
Illinois 11/1/14 7:00 PM
(13) Ohio State
(14) Arizona 11/1/14 9:30 PM
(25) UCLA
California 11/1/14 9:30 PM
Oregon State
San Diego St 11/1/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
Wyoming 11/1/14 9:45 PM
Fresno State
(18) Utah 11/1/14 10:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Utah State 11/1/14 10:00 PM
Hawaii
Bowling Green 11/4/14 7:00 PM
Akron
Toledo 11/4/14 7:00 PM
Kent State
Buffalo 11/5/14 7:00 PM
Ohio U
Northern Ill 11/5/14 7:00 PM
Ball State
Vancouver FC 1 FINAL
FC Dallas 2
Hamilton 10/31/14 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Winnipeg 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Toronto 11/2/14 11:00 AM
Montreal
Ottawa 11/7/14 6:00 PM
Toronto
Calgary 11/7/14 9:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Montreal 11/8/14 3:00 PM
Hamilton
Edmonton 11/8/14 6:00 PM
Saskatchewan
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 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: Grade the Vikings offense

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close