Brett Favre is one of the toughest players to ever play in the National Football League. He played through serious injuries and gutted out amazing performances while sick en route to an NFL record 297 consecutive starts. But, all of that took a toll on his body and now he is worried about the effects of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) as he grows older and leaves the pigskin behind.
The Hall of Fame quarterback spoke with NBC’s Megyn Kelly about his playing days and the number of hits he took during his 20-year career. Since retiring Favre has become an advocate for concussion research and has learned more about the dangers of taking shots to the head on a regular basis.
"But as we're learning about concussions," he told Kelly, "there's a term we use in football and maybe other sports, that I got 'dinged.' When you have ringing of the ears, seeing stars, that is a concussion.
Using that baseline for a diagnosing a concussion, Favre speculated he had more than the "three or four" he was diagnosed with during his playing days.
"If that's a concussion, then I've had hundreds, probably thousands, throughout my career, which is frightening."
He explained that when he was growing up concussions were not considered a big deal and that if you got "a little head ding" you were expected to go back out and play or risk being labeled a "sissy."
"I grew up playing football. My dad was the coach, he was tough on me, he was a hard-nosed, just in-your-face-type of guy, and he didn't know what concussions were about. We knew basically what a concussion was, but the thought process in those days was you would never come out of a game or practice because you had a little head ding. You would be considered, for lack of a better term, a sissy.
Favre said he would not encourage younger kids to play football because of the potential damage it does to their brains.
"The brain and just the skull itself, for (8- to 15-year-olds), and maybe even older, is not developed enough and they should not be playing tackle football," Favre said. "We should protect them, especially when there is no treatment solution out there."
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