Ben Roethlisberger on self-reporting concussion: 'You can't replace a brain'

Ben Roethlisberger is in his 13th NFL season, and when he calls it a career, he'll eventually find himself in the Hall of Fame. But the Super Bowl titles, accolades and longevity -- not to mention his style of play -- have come at a price. He's started 16 games on just three occasions, and his injury history includes just about every spot on his body -- and that includes several concussions.

Last season, Big Ben even self-reported concussion symptoms to team doctors during a game against the Seahawks, and he was later placed in the concussion protocol. In a recent interview with's Peter King, he admits that his younger self may not have been willing to do that.

"You can replace a lot of body parts, you can't replace a brain."Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger

"I'm proud of [the fact that I self-reported] it," Roethlisberger said. "I've been just like Drew [Brees] where I haven't reported things either. Probably everybody that has played the game of football hasn't reported an injury. And for me, it wasn't about an injury -- I've played through many injuries -- but when you talk about your head, that's a different ball game. You can replace a lot of body parts, you can't replace a brain. You see the effects of it from past players, players who have taken their lives, the CTE stuff, all that stuff. And, you know, I'm thinking about my family, and long term.

"And yeah, I love this game, and I love by brothers that I play football with. And I would encourage any player that has an issue with their brain to just report it properly. I wasn't making it worse, I wasn't making it better, I was just telling them [how I felt]."

So what was different about how he felt in Seattle?

"It was different. I never really felt that way before," Roethlisberger explained. "... I could see straight ahead fine but my peripheral vision was very wavy. It was like looking through water. I never experienced anything like that. I told the doctors, 'I can see you guys just fine ... but everything around exactly where I'm looking is looking through water.' They instantly knew how to deal with what it was and I was just honest with them about what was going on. And like I said at that moment, you have to think about long term as well. It's a game. We're blessed to play this game but we also have a life to live."

And what about after Roethlisberger retires, when he's in his 50s and 60s, does he wonder about his mental and physical condition then?

"I think anybody would be lying if they told you they didn't think about it," he said. "Since I switched helmets probably 8-9 years ago my concussions have been way, way down. ...

"A few years in, after getting fuzzy every couple games they started doing some of the testing on which helmets were better and I switched to a different helmet and since I did that I feel so much better and more confident in my brain and how I feel."

CBS Sports Writer

Ryan Wilson has been an NFL writer for CBS Sports since June 2011, and he's covered five Super Bowls in that time. Ryan previously worked at AOL's FanHouse from start to finish, and Football Outsiders... Full Bio

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