Would This Retired NFL Player Do It Again?

Until recently, retired NFL player George Visger said he'd never trade his football career with its friendships and experiences for anything. But now he tells a different story.

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You know what, until just a couple of years ago, I have been asked that question numerous times, and in a heartbeat I never hesitated--you know, I'd do it over again. In a heartbeat. My greatest friends, some of the greatest experiences I ever--to this day, guys I've played with 20, 30 years ago--you know, we still e-mail, we still call, we get together. The last two years, literally what it has done to my family, and my marriage--no way. You an have my Orange Bowl ring, my Super Bowl ring. You can have it all. It's not worth what it has done to my family. It's too late to turn the clock back. I'm never one to go, "Oh, you know--what if." So, it is what it is, but if I knew then what I knew now-- no way. I have a 12-year-old son, Jack, who, when we went down to Dr. Amen's clinic two years ago for the first time, and I took Jack and Kristi with me, because I wanted them to talk to the doctors. He had been chomping at the bit. We're up in Grass Valley, and Pop Warner--they start these kids at like 6 years old, and I kept telling him, "No, no, no. You're not going to play until you get into high school." And Kristi was saying, "He's not going to play." I said, "Yeah, yes he will." It was the greatest time of my life, greatest experiences. So, we went back and forth, and--"But just wait until you get in high school." I told him--I said, "One of my worst concussions was in Pop Warner--you know, when I knocked myself unconscious." So, when we came out of Amen's clinic that first time after three days of just a huge battery of tests, and Amen was just-- and Amen's the second doctor to use the term "miraculous" with me. And I'm not bragging, but it's just that someone's watching over me that I can still function the way I do. By the grace of God, I still function. And we walked out of there, and literally we weren't even to the truck yet, and Kristi just looked at me and she says, "Jack will never play football." And boy, his head popped--he looked at me, and I looked at him and I said, "Partner," I said, "I cannot argue with your mom." I said, "You're a great little baseball--but anything you put your mind to-- he's just a great kid and just--you know-- I said, "Anything you want to do." I said, "You'll be good at. Because you'll work hard." I said, "But you know what--it's not worth playing football."
Posted on BrainLine January 3, 2013.

About the author: George Visger

A defensive lineman on the San Francisco 49ers’ first Super Bowl champions in 1981-82, George Visger has lived with a shunt in his brain ever since — a consequence of the cumulative concussions. He is now a prominent figure in the fight for fair treatment of retired NFL players.

 Produced by Victoria Tilney McDonough and Jared Schaubert, BrainLine, and Dan Edblom.