Lance Briggs’ life after football includes confronting the sobering threat of CTE. After a decorated 12-year career playing linebacker for the Bears, he’s trying to make sure the degenerative brain disease doesn’t derail his future.
Briggs is participating in a CTE awareness campaign, for which he recently appeared in an online video discussing the disease and the football collisions linked to it. Although Briggs never says he is experiencing symptoms, he knows he is a candidate.
“You get worried,” Briggs said outside of Soldier Field in the video titled “Lance Briggs: Time of My Life.”
“I get concerned for myself. And even though I’ve never had any suicidal thoughts or anything like that, for it to happen to some great men and great football players, I know that I can’t separate myself from that crowd.”
Briggs, 36, keeps busy as a Bears analyst for CSN Chicago, and he said in the video he is working toward earning his bachelor’s degree.
“For me, it’s important to stay active, keep feeding my brain,” he said. “It can be tiring, but at least I know that my brain is constantly turning.”
As Briggs reflected on his 29 years playing football, he relished the type of physical contact that made him such a successful player with the Bears. Those collisions are what so many players, including Briggs, love about the sport, but now there’s greater understanding about how they affect the human brain.
“I didn’t feel like I was in the game until I got a good pop,” Briggs said in the video. “Either I got popped or I popped somebody. You’re not supposed to be doing the things we’re doing to our bodies.”
That said, Briggs is advocating awareness about the long-term effects of playing a collision sport.
“Football comes down to a choice: You understand the dangers and the harm,” he said. “If that young man … wants to play football, there will be football. Health issues are something that go hand in hand with a sport like this.
“For a lot of these guys who have played football for so long, the head injuries will continue to mount. We’re all going to need that medical care. We’re all going to need to make sure we’re cared for throughout the rest of our lives.”