On Friday, former Detroit Lions linebacker DeAndre Levy met with democratic members of the House of Representatives to discuss traumatic football brain injuries in the NFL. The purpose of the House Judiciary Committee meeting was to discuss new research in the field and the current state of concussion awareness in the league.
Levy was one of a few former NFL players on the panel, along with medical professionals and brain specialists, to give their first-hand perspective on how players currently deal with brain-related injuries and the amount of knowledge they’re given from the league, specifically regarding the chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or what’s more commonly known as CTE.
“It bothered me that not one player knew anything about the CTE research,” Levy told the congressional panel. “We see the headlines, but unless we’re queued in and paying attention to it, I don’t think a lot of guys will be able to link (their symptoms and CTE).”
Levy urged the panel for help in spreading awareness, but also offered insight into ways in which younger athletes can avoid the disease. “You can develop your child’s skills without football,” Levy said in regards to full-contact little league. “If you love football and want him to play football, you can develop their skills without putting on a helmet and shoulder pads. You can play flag football.”
“There’s no benefit from putting a helmet on a seven-year-old,” Levy said bluntly to the committee.
Levy has been long outspoken about the league and their obfuscation of the causes and prevalence of brain injuries in the NFL.
HIs outspokenness sometimes drew ire from the fans, and Levy claims that the team told him to keep quiet on brain injuries, as well. Specifically when he penned an article with the Detroit Free Press expressing his own concerns with CTE, Levy says the team told him to quit it.
“The moment I said anything about it, I had two calls telling me I shouldn’t talk about it,” Levy said. “If I don’t have the right to speak about that as a player, I think it really speaks about, kind of, the culture the NFL. What the conversations are—I think that’s indicative of the conversation we don’t hear.
“The closed door conversations between the owners, they still are trying to find ways to silence us.”
Levy also offered up an interesting idea that hasn’t been discussed much within the NFL circles: getting rid of full-contact practice. “Until we get enough research to learn more, I think we should try to mitigate and limit those risks. I mean, I don’t know why we’re still—in practice, even—I’m in 20, 30 sub-concussive collisions in practice, whether it’s going against my own teammates or going against our offense, hitting a tackling dummy.”
“I don’t think we should be in any collisions other than on Sunday,” Levy concluded.
The congressional panel concluded after over 2.5 hours that they will do their best, given the current administration, to help spread awareness and aid further research, and hoped there would be similar discussions like this in the future.
You can watch the entire forum below (If you can’t see it below, click here).