Former Jets running back Thomas Jones is just one of many athletes who are faced with uncertain futures as they are left to confront the damage sustained from concussions throughout their careers. Jones, who does not recall how many concussions he has sustained, will donate his brain to Sports Legacy Institute upon his death so it can be studied for chronic traumatic encephalopathy. Jones is also in the process of editing a documentary entitled The NFL: The Gift or the Curse? which discusses concussions and suicide.
Thomas Jones, a retired running back who played for five teams in 12 NFL seasons, has decided to donate his brain, upon his death, to the Sports Legacy Institute to be studied for evidence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Jones said he has no idea how many concussions he sustained, but he’s concerned with what they could mean for his future.
“Honestly, like I couldn’t give you a number because you just play with them,” Jones said. “You can’t know; nobody does. I think the guys counting the concussions were the ones that got knocked out.”
Jones envisions the series as the players speaking directly to the fans about the pitfalls of playing in the NFL. He understands that many people see attaining the dream of playing in the NFL as a dream come true, but he wants to show what it looks like through the eyes of the men who reached that goal.
“The fans look at it as money,” Jones said, “but once you’ve bought everything you want, you realize there is more you want out of life.”
The NFL has taken a much more proactive approach in recent years when it comes to concussion awareness as players arm themselves with information in an effort to help not only themselves but future generations as well. We all love this sport and hope it lasts for years and years to come but stories like that of Jones’ are all too sobering reminders that behind the pads and helmets and millions of dollars there are human beings putting their lives at risk.