Purple People Eaters member Gary Larsen opens up about concussions
An interview with Gary Larsen, one of the famed Purple People Eaters from the late 1960's, early '70's, appeared today on Deadspin. In it, Larsen talks about his current life and looks back on how concussions were treated when he played for the Vikings.
Here's an excerpt from the interview, which can be found here:
"When we played you got hit and you were groggy and you went over to the sideline and sat down, and you would get an ammonia capsule snapped under your nose. You'd take a few hits of that and go back in and play. I look back and I don't know how many concussions I had. I probably couldn't count them."
Larsen, 73, went on to discuss all the tactical differences and rule changes in today's NFL, as well as the different amenities provided now that didn't exist when he was a player.
One more excerpt:
"My wife says I'm forgetful and can't remember anything, but I guess that's part of the game also. But, you know, I don't really think about that too much because there's not really anything I can do about it at the point. That is in the past, and whatever happened happened and all you can do is try to take care of yourself.
"There's a lot of guys that played, you know, the time I played, that have had a lot of serious problems, that have committed suicide or are in homes. You know, they don't know if they're on foot or horseback. They've lost it all. So I consider myself pretty lucky even if I forget to shut my drawer or something."
He also said the NFL has done a lot to improve the game and the protective equipment. Several rules, he said, should cut down on head injuries if they're followed. But he cautions that the NFL shouldn't regulate to the point where "it's not football anymore."
"Football is a collision sports," he said in the interview. "That's what people come out to see."
If you're interested the NFL's current concussion conversation, or if you followed the Vikings in the days of the Purple People Eaters, it's a good read of a first-hand account.