Lem Barney is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame who played his entire career with the Detroit Lions from 1967-1977. He was a standout cornerback who played alongside Dick Lebeau in the Lions’ secondary, and had 56 career interceptions (17th most all-time) and 7 career interception returns for a touchdown (8th most all time).
He is also one of the former player plaintiffs in a class action suit against the NFL in federal district court in Philadelphia. Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press interviewed Barney in regard to his concussions. Barney said that he wasn’t diagnosed with any concussions until after his playing career was over–”no doctors from middle school through high school through college through the league called them concussions. They all called them dingers and stingers.”
Again, as I tell people, ‘Do you miss the game, Lem?’ And sincerely, I don’t miss the game. If I look at the game now and I look back on it retrospectively, if I had another choice I’d never played the game, at all, in my life. Never. Never. From all-city, all-state, all-conference, all-American, seven times All-Pro, I’m in eight Hall of Fames, it wouldn’t be. It would be golf or tennis. I’m serious. Very serious.
It is a tale as old as time. The old man with the wisdom of his experiences saying what he would have done differently, if he had been younger, while the youth who hear opt for their own experiences. The question is whether the voices, like Barney, become greater in number. More importantly, whether the evidence becomes stronger, and whether that alters youth.