Sometimes sports get a little too real. That's what I'm feeling as I listen to former Kansas City Chiefs DE Neil Smith talk on The Drive on 610 Sports with Danny Parkins and Carrington Harrison. Smith, who played nine years in Kansas City and 13 years overall, delivered a bombshell in a Wednesday appearance on the show.
Would Neil Smith play football all over again, knowing how he feels now?
"If I had to do it all over again, probably not," Smith said. "I'd probably go another direction."
Smith said that he was all set to join the Marines or the Army but he was one of the last ones to get a scholarship to the University of Nebraska.
"I don't know if I would have went that way," Smith continued. "Knowing how I feel right now. It's real tough. I can only speak for me but I left it out there. I left everything I had in every game I played out there. You can turn on the film and you never saw me walking anywhere."
Smith, who recently had hip surgery and has two more surgeries coming, said, "It's hard to get up in the morning," because of pain in his hip and back. The game also, as we've learned by now, had an affect on his brain.
"I'm not like I used to be," Smith said. "The memory, I can walk into a room sometimes and forget things and I have to walk back out. I have to ask my family what's going on with my head. Some things, I'm getting accustomed to it."
"I'm not feeling sorry for Neil," Smith continued. "It was something I did, I signed on for it. I'm accepting it."
Players entering today's game have seen the multi-billion dollar lawsuits going on with the the league and concussions so there is awareness of the risk of football. Players back in Smith's day didn't have that luxury.
"There was no one telling us the risk like they're talking about today," Smith said.
Some things, however, don't change. As I'm sure still happens today, Smith said that players would hide concussions in order to save their roster spot.
"Early in my career, I remember my rookie year, I probably had like three [concussions] in one game and still played and had one of the worst headaches in my life. You hear the trainers say, 'If you keep having these concussions, your career is over.' You say that to a 22-year old guy who just made it, they don't want to hear that. So what they do, they just don't say anything. They give you that time off now with the protocols."
Head to the 20:30 mark at this link to hear Neil Smith on 610 Sports.