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Ex-Giant Derrick Ward Says He was Allowed to Play with Concussions; Discusses Recent NFL Lawsuit

June 6th, 2014 at 3:00 PM
By Dan Benton

Retired running back Derrick Ward has not been shy about sharing his opinions on any number of things since stepping away from the NFL, claiming the league does not care about retired players, that the New York Giants never re-sign their injured players and basically anything and everything else you can imagine.

Whether or not one agrees with Ward's opinions, the reality is he's not reserved in expressing his beliefs, debating his stance and engaging the fans. And on Thursday, he once again took to Twitter to address a recent lawsuit filed against the NFL that accuses teams of illegally supplying drugs to players without warning them of the long-term effects, resulting in major health issues and drug dependency.

"It's true about this law suit with the pain killers. I know I couldn't even play a game if I didn't have at least for Hydrocodone before the game and a second at half time. There would be practice weeks where I needed painkiller shots just to practice because of all the surgeries I had (13)," Ward tweeted."NFL teams will do any and everything they need to do to have a player play. I knew if I didn't get those pain pills and shots that I wouldn't have been able to play, which meant I would have been cut from the team. Like the old saying goes 'you can't make the team sitting in the cold tub.' "

Ward took is a step further, explaining to fans the dark side of the NFL — how players are forced to recover over a short period of time and how, quite often, drugs are used to aid in that process.

"What fans don't know is we do a lot to get our bodies just to be able to play on Sunday's. [On] Monday and Tuesday's I couldn't even walk correctly [following] a game. Wednesday's and Thursday's I coasted at practice just trying to get my body back right. Friday I was able to so a lot more. Saturday was a walk-through practice and Sunday [I went[ with the shots and the painkiller pills before the game [so] I was able to somewhat feel normal to play," Ward added.

"When all that stuff wore off about two or three hours after the game, I felt like I had been hit by a truck after games. And this was from the first preseason game until the last game of the season. So, to the fans, try to give your favorite NFL players a break. They do a lot to entertain you."

But wait…there's more.

The one-time 1,000 yard back didn't stop with just the lawsuit and what players have to deal with on a week-to-week basis, but he also noted that he was allowed to play with concussions prior to the NFL's change in stance on sideline evaluations and that he had suffered at least 10 throughout his career.

"And you have no idea how many times I had to hide my concussions from the teams just to be able to play the next week. I've had five documented concussions, but I've had at least another five I didn't let the team know about. And the five that where documented, two of them I was allowed to continue to play with — this was before the rules for concussions changed," he said.

Ward indicated that at least four of his concussions were suffered as a member of the New York Giants while wedge-busting on Special Teams, and that as a result of all 10 known concussions, he's suffered from memory loss.

"Walk a mile in my shoes and play the game of football for as long as I have and you would know what it feels like to not be able to remember the simple things like your kids' names or birthdays or your phone number. Or have a conversation with someone and can't think of a word fast enough because your brain is so banged up. This is what we go through as ball players," he concluded.

This, obviously, wouldn't be the first time we've heard about a player suffering major memory issues as a result of their time in the NFL, but it's the first (we believe) Ward has announced it.

Despite his stance on both illegally supplied drugs and concussions, Ward has not publicly been linked to either the concussion lawsuit or the more recently filed drug lawsuit.


Tags: Derrick Ward, Football, New York, New York Giants, NFL

11 Responses to “Ex-Giant Derrick Ward Says He was Allowed to Play with Concussions; Discusses Recent NFL Lawsuit”

  1.  GOAT56 says:


    I hope we continue to hear good things about my boys Robinson and Taylor. I have defended both players a lot over the last year. Now at least they seem to be showing some signs that I wasn’t crazy. Both have probowl level measurables but have yet to really do much in even a preseason game.

    Robinson I think is ready to be a good player for us this year. He needed 2 years to learn how to become a professional and now he has a huge opportunity with the TE spot his to lose. Regardless we should know if Robinson can play or not this year because he will likely receive significant playing time.

    Taylor is more of a mystery but him contributing heavily also wouldn’t surprise me. Unlike Robinson, taylor was a very productive college player who’s main knocks were being from a smaller school and his medical condition. He has a real chance to grab a starting role in sub packages if he plays well. Williams needs to watch his back because playing Taylor as a nickel LB over Williams wouldn’t be a major shocker.

    These are two players who’s development could help completely change the current view of JR.

    The one player who needs to really play well this year that I’m hearing nothing about is Hankins. I don’t like Patterson is starting over him because we need Hankins to be the type of player that’s better than Patterson at this point of his career. Hopefully it’s just a coaching thing in terms of making Hankins earn a starting role. Hankins after JPP and Rolle might be as important to our defense’s success as any player.

  2.  ERICHONIUS says:

    Here we go again with the “I didn’t know I could be hurt playing football” routine. The truth is that the idea that people could be seriously hurt, suffer loss of function, is well known to be a possible outcome of playing football. The players made a CHOICE to take the risk and play for: A) the joy of the game, B) the large sums of money they earn to play. Further, the argument that the NFL is responsible for these injuries, and loss of function, is also predicated on the idea that the players are somehow coerced to take the risk. A major point to consider is that these same players did the same things in college and highschool BEFORE the NFL! This suggests these actions are the players choice, not some malevolent agenda of the NFL.

  3.  BillyS says:

    I’m so sick of these players playing dumb when it comes to injuries and the NFL. It’s a violent sport. Anyone with half a brain would see that. Players get dinged up all the time and play through the pain. Why? Because they make so much freaking money! I have to try to make it into work when it’s snowing out. Why? Because I have a job that I have to be there for. I also get paid for it. These players act as if they pay to play in the NFL. I’m so freaking tired of these players whining and complaining. They play for love of the game and money. That’s it. And if anyone had a right to sue it wouldn’t be Derrick “I rant on Twitter because nobody listens to me” Ward, it’d be someone like Brett Favre. But again…LOVE OF THE GAME.

  4.  GIANTT says:

    “And you have no idea how many times I had to hide my concussions from the teams just to be able to play the next week.”

    I lost any sympathy I had when I read this line . Disingenuous to say the least . How can you hide your concussions because you want to play (read here – get paid ) and then try and blame the organization you are hiding the concussions from ? And its not like there werent lots of evidence on the long term effects of playing pro ball that any player who played in the NFL didnt know EXACTLY what the results were going to be .

  5.  GOAT56 says:

    Look I don’t think a recent player like Ward should cloud the judgement about older players that really have legit claims about not knowing the risks involved. Ward knew all of them so I don’t feel bad for him. But some of those older players have very legit claims.

  6.  fanfor55years says:

    GOAT certainly has been talking up Robinson and Taylor over the past year, and it appears there’s a decent chance he was right. The question has always been whether their excellent measurables would do them any good on the field. There are an awful lot of players who are great athletes who don’t make it in the NFL, and neither of those two had openly demonstrated any reason to be all that confident in their futures yet. But I think we were all hoping they would, and except for the cynics most were keeping open minds. But let’s remember, it’s still OTAs, there have been very few practices, and that Ramses Barden was a star in camp. It doesn’t mean anything yet. Nonetheless, the news about both kids is promising. And if they both turn out to be good, yes, Jerry Reese’s stock will go up considerably.

    I think the Hankins thing is a courtesy to Patterson, and that Hankins will have to beat him out for the spot and that the coaches hope he does. But as I’ve said for awhile, Mike Patterson was a GREAT pickup by Reese and anyone who undersells him is making a mistake. This guy was a premier defensive tackle for the Eagles before his illness. If he can return to form completely it’s highly unlikely a pretty “green” Hankins is going to “beat him out”, but I’m not sure it matters. Both are going to get plenty of snaps in 2014 and Hankins is going to be a starter in 2015 without doubt.

    As for Ward, yawn. I have great sympathy for the older players who really didn’t know the consequences of playing too long in the league and the techniques they used and were coached to use. But anyone who played in the 21st Century was more than well-aware of the potential consequences and had plenty of examples of what could happen. They chose to play. I hate military analogies to sports, but plenty of young people join the armed forces in order to get free educations and long-term pensions and health care coverage starting in their 40′s. They KNOW there’s a chance they can wind up in combat and die or be severely injured. They make the choice willingly. It’s no different for a professional football player who chooses to play in order to get paid well, and because he loves competing. Complaining about that choice later is for sissies.

  7.  Krow says:

    Ward reminds me of those guys who leave a job … then trash everyone where they used to work. You thought they were fine, but all along they were harboring various resentments. Bitter fellow.

  8.  Nosh.0 says:

    The NFL has tons of turnover every year and opportunities are fleeting. As Coughlin said in regards to cutting Will Hill, if a guy can’t be counted on to play sundays, then the team has to find someone who can.

    It’s one thing if Aaron Rodgers sits out a few weeks with a concussion, his job is secure. But guys like Ward trying like h#l.L to make the team and hopefully get a second contract, they don’t have the luxury of missing games. The un-drafted, low round picks, they usually get 1 shot and that’s it. So yeah, there is pressure to play through injuries and concussions. Especially in a sport where contracts aren’t guaranteed. The system has some flaws.

    •  Nosh.0 says:

      Point is, a players choice usually does not include “rest up for a few weeks until you’re 100 percent”. Instead his choice is usually, suit up on Sunday and make plays for us (healthy or unhealthy) or be out of a job.

      So yeah I’m sure players around the NFL hide concussions each and every week. Just from watching every game we know Kevin Boss had close to 10 with the Giants. Eli loved to throw to him up the seam, whether a safety was there or not.

  9.  Nosh.0 says:

    Learning the new offense isn’t going to be a problem for Eli Manning even after a decade in the system Kevin Gilbride coordinated for the Giants. One head coach described Manning as “off-the-charts brilliant” and smarter than his brother Peyton. The fact that Manning has recovered from ankle surgery well enough to participate in OTAs is another bonus on the preparation front.

    “McAdoo will give them different concepts in the passing game — shorter passes to supplement the running game and more midrange routes to move the chains,” a personnel evaluator familiar with McAdoo predicted. “The tight end will be a big part of that, too. In that type of offense, you cannot have enough tight ends who can play multiple spots. Also, in that offense, you can maybe take one, two deep shots a half, but really emphasize the short and midrange throws. Run after the catch will be big for them.”

    “I think some of the Green Bay stuff will be refreshing for Eli,” a coordinator with NFC North experience said. “Tom [Coughlin] still has a healthy respect for running the ball, which they did in Green Bay when they had runners. They used to like to run it up your tail if they could.”

  10.  GOAT56 says:

    F55 – What’s ironic about Robinson and Taylor is that I like them for 2 different reasons. You’re right that being really athletic isn’t enough for NFL success for most positions. However, from what I have seen if there is an exception it’s at TE. Most of the guys that are considered elite TEs were at least very good athletes. Even a guy like Witten who some don’t recall was a top athlete ran a 4.65 coming out of college. Many of these TEs were dominate college players and some were basketball conversions. So a large part of me defending Robinson has been the history of TEs. An athlete like him as a TE you really need to give a full chance to develop.

    Patterson is someone I’m not nearly as high on as you. I don’t like relying on so many old players as DT starters. I think the rock at DT needs to be a younger player like Hankins with Jenkins and Patterson working around him. But Hankins is young so he might not be ready for the Joseph role yet. So in the end Patterson might be a very important player for us because we need quality DT play. I think more than past years we could end up needing help from rookies especially if Kuhn gets beat out for a roster spot.

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