Sportress of Blogitude

Bears safety Chris Conte willing to exchange shorter lifespan for career in NFL


Chicago Bears safety Chris Conte made some rather sobering comments during an appearance on a Chicago radio station regarding the heavy price that some players are apparently willing to pay to have an NFL career.

Conte, 25, in his fourth season with the Bears after being drafted in the third round in the 2011 NFL Draft, has had an injury-plagued career, specifically this season. Perhaps most troubling of all is that Conte has suffered two concussions this season, one during the preseason and another during an Oct. 5 game against the Carolina Panthers.

Given the research that documents the long-term, degrading and life-altering damage head injuries can have on players that has come to light of late, one would suspect that dealing with concussions would cause a player pause as he contemplates the after-effects of having an NFL career.

But not Conte. To him, the potentially traumatic tradeoff of having the opportunity to play at football’s highest level is worth the risk.

“I’d rather have the experience of playing in the NFL and die 10 to 15 years earlier than not play in the NFL and have a long life,” Conte said during Monday’s pregame show on WBBM-AM 780 before the Bears’ loss to the New Orleans Saints, via the Chicago Tribune.

Conte admitted that he rarely contemplates what things will be like once his career is finished.

“I don’t really look toward my life after football. I’ll figure things out when I get there,” Conte admitted. “As long as I outlive my parents.”

Conte said during the interview that as long as some team is willing to sign him, he’ll keep playing. And while he may seem to be taking an irresponsibly cavalier approach to his long-term health — not to mention the ability to enjoy a full life regardless of the age that he dies — Conte insists he’s not saying he wants to die young, he just wants to play the game he loves.

“I’m not saying I’m going to go die when I’m 45, 50,” he said. “I’m fortunate to go out and play football.”

(image credit: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)