Last week was a tough one for Chicago Bears fans, or NFL fans in general, with twoÂ Bears former players passing away far too young. And sadly, both had their problems with concussions.
The suicide of former defensive back Dave Duerson – a member of the 1985 Super Bowl champs – has been well-publicized. While the extent of his concussion history is somewhat unknown, Duerson himself was concerned enough about the possibility that he decided to have his brain donated for research.
The other former Bears player – another former defensive back – who passed away was Ricky Bell. Bell’s death hasn’t gotten as much publicity in this country, since he spent most of his career in the Canadian Football League. He played three NFL seasons, and most of his time was spent with the Bears.
Bell died Feb. 17 (though it went mostly unreported until this weekend), and the cause of death was not released. He was just 36.
The Winnipeg Sun has a short write-up on Bell, and in it is a pretty chilling tale from a former CFL teammate:
Harold Nash Jr., who played with Bell in the Winnipeg secondary during the 2002 and 2003 seasons, remembers him as a tough competitor.
â€œThis is an unfortunate situation, but Iâ€™ve got good memories of Ricky,â€ Nash said Friday. â€œGreat football player, great person.â€
Nash recalled a game against Toronto in which Bell took a head shot from teammate Maurice Kelly when they arrived to make a tackle at the same time. The wobbly Bell wanted to go right back in, so the trainers hid his helmet.
â€œRicky found his helmet,â€ said Nash, now the strength and conditioning coach for the New England Patriots. â€œRicky wouldnâ€™t do any of the (concussion) testing. Rick was just, â€˜No, Iâ€™m not doing the test.â€™ He finds his helmet, and he lines up in the box. Heâ€™s supposed to be out there covering a receiver.
â€œThat was Rick. Rick loved the game. He loved to compete. He was a good team player.â€
The part I simply can’t believe is that this was less than a decade ago when this occured. I believe concussion treatment has come a long ways, and I sure hope it’s come a very long ways from incidents like that.
Stories like that prove players can be their own worst enemies. Organizations HAVE to make these guys understand that it’s not about “being a man” and “shaking it off” when it comes to concussions. There’s so much more at stake.