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Sam Bradford's father worries about son's concussions

THIS JUST in: Football is a violent game. It's a dangerous, unnatural, collision sport where human beings essentially play demolition derby with their bodies.

Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford.
Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford.Read more(Clem Murray/Staff Photographer)

THIS JUST in: Football is a violent game.

It's a dangerous, unnatural, collision sport where human beings essentially play demolition derby with their bodies.

There are injuries, many of them serious. Broken bones. Torn ligaments.

And concussions. Lots of concussions.

Not that long ago, no one ever used that word. Now, it's the name of a soon-to-be-released movie that the NFL would prefer you not go and see.

"Back in our day, when we were young, I remember seeing stars a few times," said Kent Bradford, who played for the University of Oklahoma in the late 70s. "Getting a head-hit where you're kind of stung for a minute and you walk it off. That occurred a lot.

"But they weren't called concussions back then. It was called having your bell rung. I'm sure some of those things that we endured back then would probably be called a concussion now.''

Kent Bradford has no idea how many times he got his "bell rung'' during his playing days. The good news is he's 58 now, and with the exception of the occasional episode of forgetfulness that we all experience as we get older, he's just fine.

These days, he's keeping his fingers crossed that his son Sam, who suffered his first NFL concussion three weeks ago against Miami, also will be just fine when he's 58.

"It's the same worry every parent has about their kids,'' Kent said. "You don't want them to get injured or hurt.

"I think there still are a lot of unknowns there (about concussions). How many a kid can have. Is there such a thing as a mild one? So yeah, I do worry about that. But in the same light, he's playing the sport he loves. And ultimately, it's his call.

"I am glad that they have come up with a true concussion protocol and that they do have a non-team doctor involved in the whole process. The NFL has taken steps with the extra guy (in the booth) trying to spot them.

"But the main problem is it's just a very violent game. These young men are getting bigger and stronger and faster. It's not going to get better.''

Bradford's concussion against the Dolphins was, by Sam's estimation, the third of his career. He had one in 2003 in his sophomore year in high school and another in 2007 at the University of Oklahoma.

He suffered both a concussion and an AC joint sprain to his left shoulder when he was driven to the ground by Dolphins linebacker Chris McCain.

Bradford said this most recent concussion was fairly mild compared to his previous two. He didn't even realize there was anything wrong with him aside from the shoulder injury, until the doctor examined him and there were some things about the game that he couldn't recall.

"The ones he had in high school and at OU, he was really docile (after those),'' said Kent, who was at the Dolphins game along with Sam's mom Martha. "It was, 'What's the score out there?' and 'Who are we playing today?' I was alarmed.

"This last one he was actually texting me from the locker room telling me what was happening in there. His texts were all very normal texts. In the car ride home, he seemed very, very normal.''

Said Sam: "I seemed to come around a little quicker this time than the other two.''

Bradford's first concussion happened in a playoff game his sophomore year in high school. Actually, he might've suffered two separate concussions in that game.

"We were playing on that old-school AstroTurf, where it was kind of like carpet on top of concrete,'' he said. "I got hit earlier in the game, like on a two-point play or something. I think I might've gotten dinged then, because a couple of my teammates told me later, 'Hey, you were kind of out of it.'

"Then I went back in and took another hit where I just kind of fell back onto my head. After that, I just had no clue what was going on. It was pretty scary. I was only 15 or 16 at the time. I couldn't remember anything. I didn't know who people were. It was kind of freaky.''

That was 12 years ago. Concussion awareness wasn't what it is today. There was no concussion protocol or baseline testing, particularly at the high school level.

Bradford also played high school basketball, which already had started practice. After the concussion, the doctor told him to sit out a week or two before he started playing basketball.

"I think I missed a week, maybe a week-and-a-half, then started playing,'' he said.

The concussion at Oklahoma happened late in the '07 season, his first as the team's starter.

"It was the same kind of thing,'' Bradford said. "Loss of memory. Wasn't sure what was going on, where I was.''

And yet, he was back practicing by midweek and cleared to play against Oklahoma State that Saturday.

Again, this was eight years ago.

Bradford said he doesn't spend any time worrying about the long-term effects of the concussions he's suffered.

"Not yet," he said. "I think everyone's more aware now than even when I came into the league (in 2010). But I think it's just one of those things that, until there's more research done, until they truly know how it affects people . . . I think everyone in that locker room feels different.

"I think some guys, it probably worries them and it probably scares them. And I think other guys, they don't flinch at it. They don't really think much about it."

Bradford is one of seven Eagles players that have suffered concussions since the start of the regular-season. Running back Ryan Mathews has missed the last three games with one.

Wide receiver/special teams ace Seyi Ajirotutu was knocked unconscious in the Eagles' Week 1 loss to Atlanta after a vicious collision with Falcons punt returner Eric Weems.

He missed the next game, but returned for the Week 3 game against the Jets.

"I'd had a concussion before," he said. "But that was the first one in a while. Four or five years. The severity was worse this time.

"You always think you're fine. But it's scary. You think to yourself, 'I'm OK. I'm better.' But are you really?

"I felt OK. But by the numbers on the impact test, I could see I was way off. Everything was delayed.''

Ajirotutu admitted that he initially was a bit tentative when he got back on the field after getting cleared.

"It definitely makes you think about down the road because of all the stuff that's been coming out. Because if you get another one, you've got to worry about your health.''

Tight end Zach Ertz missed the Lions game after suffering a concussion against Tampa Bay when he was flipped in the air and landed on his upper back and neck. Ertz said it was his first-ever concussion.

"It's scary,'' he said. "I had never had one, and the after-effects, how you feel the next day, you just don't feel like yourself. That's the scary part.

"Looking at the play, I don't want to say I was lucky just coming out of it with a concussion. But I could've broken my neck. So I feel fortunate.''

Ertz said he doesn't give a lot of thought to the potential long-term effects of concussions.

"Everyone knows the risks of this game,'' he said. "We've known them since we started playing. I know the things that can occur to me playing this game.''