Skip navigation
Sign up to follow your favorites on all your devices.
Sign up

Polamalu says he has lied about concussions to keep playing

Troy Polamalu, Shawn Lauvao

Pittsburgh Steelers strong safety Troy Polamalu (43) is hit by Cleveland Browns offensive guard Shawn Lauvao (66) as he returns an interception in the second quarter of an NFL football game Thursday, Dec. 8, 2011, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Don Wright)


Steelers safety Troy Polamalu seems to value being on the field for his teammates more than he values his own health and safety.

Polamalu said on the Dan Patrick Show that he has lied about symptoms of concussions so that he’d be cleared to stay on the field.

“Yes, I have, for sure,” Polamalu said.

Polamalu, however, seems to see a distinction between just saying he doesn’t feel dazed after a hit to the head when maybe he actually does, and blatantly lying about a significant injury.

“I wouldn’t say I’ve had any major lies,” Polamalu said. “Somebody may say, ‘Is your knee messed up?’ It may be kind of messed up but you just kind of push yourself to be out there with your brothers. I wouldn’t say there are any major lies where I totally lied may way out of concussions. In fact, during concussions, if it’s serious enough you can’t even be conscious enough to lie.”

According to Polamalu, there’s a difference between the kind of concussion that takes you off the field and the kinds of dings that doctors might call a concussion but football players view as the cost of doing business.

“I’ve had, I believe, eight or nine recorded concussions. We’ll have another conversation after I’m done playing football,” Polamalu said. “When you get your bell rung they consider that a concussion -- I wouldn’t. . . . If that is considered a concussion, I’d say any football player at least records 50 to 100 concussions a year.”

So why is Polamalu willing to lie? He says it’s all about being there for his team.

“There’s so much built up about team camaraderie and sacrifice, and football is such a tough man’s game,” Polamalu said. “I think that’s why it’s so popular, why so many blue-collar communities and people feel really attracted to it, because it’s sort of a blue-collar struggle that football players go through in terms of the physicality of the game and the commitment you need. . . . It’s that commitment you need to play football. You feel sore, you’re beat up, you’re injured, you’re legitimately injured, most people may take three months off to work in an office, we choose to play the next week.”

And sometimes Polamalu even chooses to keep playing in the very game when the medical staff would tell him he shouldn’t.