Pro Football Hall of Famer Lem Barney has gone public with what I was thinking when I heard that NFL legend Deacon Jones had died: That head injuries played a part in his demise.
In an interview with USA Today, Barney blamed the concussions that Jones endured during his career for the player’s mental and physical deterioration. Jones, another Hall of Famer, died Monday night at age 74.
Barney and Jones played together for the Detroit Lions. Jones reportedly died of natural causes, USA Today said, but Barney said, “I’m sure it’s due to the head injuries.”
For one thing, Jones’ speech had slowed down, according to Barney.
The 67-year-old is among the more than 4,000 former or present players who are suing the NFL, alleging that the league didn’t warn them of the long-term impact of concussions.
Barney told USA Today that if he had it to do all over again, he would not have played pro football. He sustained more than a half dozen concussions during his career.