Steelers' Polamalu offers scary peek into NFL's future

If the NFL is feeling pressure about facing hundreds of concussion-related lawsuits now, Troy Polamalu's startling admission Wednesday might have league officials feeling even more stressed about what the future holds.

In a radio interview with Dan Patrick, the Pittsburgh Steeler's hard-hitting safety copped to having suffered at least eight or nine concussions during his career. And he added he expected the number to be higher by the time he retires.

He also told Patrick that he had lied about having a concussion in order to get back into a game.

The idea, said Polamalu, is to "just push yourself to be out there with your brothers." And much of that, he said, has to do with the long, grueling NFL season and the pressure on players to play ever week, even with injuries.

What should make this so unsettling to the NFL is that Polamalu is hardly an isolated case.

There are probably dozens -- if not hundreds -- of other current players with a similar history of concussions.

And if even a small number of them come down with debilitating concussion-related symptoms and traumatic brain injury after they retire and sue the league, NFL lawyers will be filing briefs and shuttling in and out of court rooms 24 hours a day for years.

That's partly the reason the NFL has been so concerned about concussions the past two years, with players submitting to more rigorous sideline and locker room testing when a concussion is suspected.

But when you hear stories like Polamalu's, you get the feeling the league's precautions might be a case of too little, too late.

Obviously, for many players, the damage has already been done.

And the league is going to be feeling that damage in its pocketbook for many years to come. 

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