Arizona Cardinals wide receiver and special teams player Sean Morey says he played with a concussion against the Chicago Bears last Sunday even though he has taken a lead role in raising awareness of head injuries.
"I just downplayed my symptoms and didn't communicate well enough with my training staff so they weren't able to do their job effectively," Morey said on Thursday.
Morey hasn't practiced this week because of the concussion. He said he convinced himself that the head injury — sustained in a game against Carolina — was connected to his flu symptoms and acknowledges that maybe it was "wishful thinking" on his part.
Last month, Morey was named co-chair of the NFL Players Association concussion and traumatic brain injury committee.
Morey, who came down with the flu the day after the Carolina game, said he didn't think it was a mistake to play against the Bears.
"I think my flu symptoms complicated the situation," he said, "and I felt like if I could go out and play with better technique, use my hands and limit the helmet-to-helmet contact, then I'd be able to play through it."
Morey, who made the Pro Bowl as a special teams player last season, says he understands that people might think he wasn't practicing what he has preached. He repeated his advice that head injuries shouldn't be covered up.
"That's the only message that players need to hear, whether it be a college athlete or a high school athlete, that you can't continue to downplay or lie about symptoms," Morey said. "You can't ignore the risk of concussions."
However, he said that in the NFL, the issue is complicated by the players' obligation and desire to play, no matter what.
"No player wants to take a day off or get a free lunch," he said. "All the players that play this game are hard-wired to do their job because they have a deep loyalty to their teammates and their owners."
This week, he said, he is following proper procedures and wouldn't return to practice or games until cleared to do so.
"I'm communicating with my training staff and allowing them to do their job," he said.
Morey, in his 10th NFL season, won't say how many concussions he has had, only that it's "more than I'd like to admit."