As the NFL victims of brain damage get more prominent and younger and younger, the AP sent reporters into all 32 locker rooms in the league to take the temperature of 100 current players themselves. What those reporters encountered: An acute awareness of the risk of injury—though some players say they do their best to ignore fears, others say it affects players' actions on the field—and broad suspicions that teams aren't always providing the best care, or acting in the best interest of the players themselves; those suspicions were more prevalent among veteran players, with 35% saying their interests are protected, as opposed to 71% among those who have played professionally less than four years. "Some places are really good at it, other places are, in the players' opinion, not good at all," says a 12-year veteran with the Arizona Cardinals. Other findings from the investigation:
- 39 of the 100 players said they are more worried about the long-term effects of concussions than other types of injuries.
- 52 rated their general level of concern about injuries as high or medium ("You can break your neck at any moment; it's not like we're playing golf," Washington Redskins cornerback DeAngelo Hall said), while 48 said it was low or nonexistent.
- 71 said they have noticed other players' play affected by health concerns, and 36 acknowledged their own play has been influenced.
"The one thing I always say is: The game catches up to everybody," said a Redskins lineman not involved in the survey. "My hope and prayer is that I want everybody to be healthy and to be prosperous. But I don't know if that'll happen. Call me hopeful or call me crazy." For a sample of what players told the AP, click here