DETROIT (CBS Detroit) Did Detroit Lions' star Calvin Johnson really emerge uninjured from a helmet-to-helmet collision with Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway two weeks ago -- or did he get back into the game with a concussion?
Johnson tackled that question during a Thursday morning interview heard on the Stoney and Bill show on 97.1 The Ticket, where he seemed to admit for the first time he has played with a concussion.
Johnson was visibly out of it after the collision with Greenway.
"He rung my bell pretty good, he got me, he caught me around the chin, that was a good hit," Johnson said. "It's a part of football, you get concussed, you gotta keep on playing. You can't get afraid to go across the middle any more than you were at the beginning."
Concussions are at the center of a lawsuit brought by 3,300 former players who claim the NFL didn't do enough to protect them from head injuries. The NFL wants the suits dismissed "on the basis that the claims are pre-empted by federal labor law," league spokesman Brian McCarthy said in an August press release.
NFL concussions were in the headlines again yesterday when former Lions player and TV star Alex Karras -- one of the players in the lawsuit -- died at 77, reportedly from kidney failure. He suffered from dementia for years, with his attorney Craig Mitnick blaming head injuries suffered in the NFL for his mental deterioration, telling the Associated Press this week: "He may be dying of kidney failure because now his body is catching up to the deterioration of his mind."
Johnson said he was given a concussion test on the sidelines of the Vikings game. "They come and do the little test with the finger ... ask you what day, what game it is, stuff like that," he said, sounding like he had passed.
Jim Schwartz weighed in Thursday, saying, "Our evaluation was he was not concussed, he was thoroughly checked, we are very strong in our evaluation. He was cleared to go back in the game ... We are very strong in our evaluation. We are, we as an organization, we have some credibility when it comes to concussions, so just leave it at that."
Johnson also discussed the Lions' Jahvid Best during the interview, who's been out since week six of last season with concussion-related injuries. Johnson praised his teammate's speed, saying he's a "mismatch for any linebacker in the league."
"He has a lot of tools," Johnson said. "We'll have a full arsenal (when he's back)."
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