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DeAndre Levy: Lions tried to silence me from talking about CTE


Earlier this year, former Detroit Lions linebacker DeAndre Levy filed a grievance against the team in August for $1.75 million for allegedly misleading him regarding a knee injury.

He’s now upped the ante, stating to a congressional subcommittee on brain injuries in football that his former team tried to silence him from talking about CTE.

CTE, a degenerative disease, has been commonly found posthumously in players, and is quickly becoming known in athletic circles for the dangerous risk of hard-contact sports that it is.

“The moment I said anything about it, I had two calls telling me I shouldn’t talk about it,” Levy told the committee. “I don’t know if it was because it was CTE, or if it was because it’s just the general NFL rule of, like, only football. Only talk about football, only think about football. I posted simply the research … and I was told not to talk about it the first day it was out. And I’m just, like, you know, it could have just been locker room culture.”

“Nobody wants to talk about anything other than football. But it didn’t sit well with me when I’m talking about brain injuries.”

Dec 11, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions outside linebacker DeAndre Levy (54) tackles Chicago Bears running back Jordan Howard (24) during the game at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 11, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions outside linebacker DeAndre Levy (54) tackles Chicago Bears running back Jordan Howard (24) during the game at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

“It’s my brain. It’s not my shoulder, it’s my brain. It controls everything I do, it controls everything we think, everything we feel,” he said. “And if I don’t have the right to speak about that as a player, I think it really speaks about the culture of the NFL, of what those conversations are. I think that’s indicative of the conversations that we don’t hear. The closed-door conversations between owners. They still are trying to find ways to silence us.”

Not so, say the Lions. The team released an official statement condemning the allegations.

“We are aware of his comments and we strongly disagree with this claim that anyone from our organization tried to silence him,” the statement read. 

Levy also told the committee that he believes that ownership in the NFL doesn’t fully appreciate the severity of head injuries, and that players aren’t fully educated on the dangers and risks involved.

“I don’t think the owners are in touch with it,” Levy said. “It’s a business. We’re a number. Our brains and bodies are disposable. I can’t speak for every team — I’ve only been with one team — but, I mean, I never sat down and talked with the owner. So there’s no connection (with) the players. Right now, we’re the only ones that will even care about the issue.” 

He continued, “I don’t think the organization wants to put that in a player’s head, that they can give themselves a degenerative brain disease,” Levy said. “You don’t want your players out there worrying about damaging their brain. That’s not talked about.”

Levy was originally a third round (76th overall) draft selection of the Lions in 2009 out of Wisconsin, and played eight seasons for the team. He was once considered to be one of the best 4-3 linebackers in the NFL, amassing six interceptions in 2013 and 151 tackles in 2014. 

 

Written by Michael Whitaker

Always at the front lines of Detroit Sports.

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