Mac Attack 6/11/12: Panthers legend Wesley Walls joins the guys to talk about the ongoing NFL concussion lawsuit and why he got involved in it all. He also discusses a little Panthers news and notes.
“I think it’s important for some of the younger guys to support this lawsuit because we don’t know exactly what’s happening in our bodies.,” said Walls. “I’m 46, and I’ve got a lot of friends who played this game and they’re in their 50’s and 60’s and they’re having a lot of problems. I feel fine right now, but who knows in ten years what effects of the concussions I had are going to have on me and my life.
Walls acknowledged that some protective measures are being taken and the evolution of the sport can be observed in several different ways.
“You can see the rules that are being implemented, the fines. Guys are starting to tackle differently now. That’s one of the reasons the tight ends are so productive now if you ask me because they aren’t getting their heads knocked off down the middle.”
Still, looking backward, Walls finds it troublesome that more information was not given to players about the potential effects of concussions later in life. Helmet makers and other professionals allegedly knew more about the harmful after-effects of head trauma but failed to warn players.
“If they’ve known about this and helmet makers have known about this since the game began and they haven’t done anything, then there needs to be some kind of compensation for that,” said Walls.
Others argue that the after-effects of concussions are obviously part of the job. Players should have realized that they were putting their bodies in potentially detrimental situations just like firefighters and policemen. Walls doesn’t see it that way.
“When I signed up to play NFL, I knew I was going to get the heck knocked out of me every time I came across the middle. I knew I was taking a risk with my body. What I didn’t know is what it was going to feel like when I was 55 or 60 years old. If I’d have known, I still would have played. I know I would have. But, at least it would have been full disclosure and that’s all that everyone is asking for here.”
We also asked Walls how he felt about his own children playing the game with all its risks. Walls’ son is a linebacker at Clemson.
“Those guys hit every play, so it was something I was worried about,” said Walls. “But, he was around good coaches, around a parent that taught him how to tackle with his head up, and I watched for it. The problem I think we had back in the old days is if you had a concussion they sent you right back in the game. If I saw a play where I thought my kid had dinged his head and had suffered a concussion, and they put him back in the game, I’m going to run down there and pull him out of the game.”