Haloti Ngata, the massive Detroit Lions defensive tackle, has heard all the research about CTE and the long-term brain effects of playing professional football. It’s got to be scary for pro football players, especially as they get older and start thinking about life after retirement. Before choosing to continue his NFL career, Ngata chose to have his brain examined, according to ESPN’s Michael Rothstein.
The idea belonged to Ngata’s agent, and after giving it some thought, the 33-year-old Ngata decided it was a good idea. He had cognitive and brain exams performed at the CORE Institute in Brighton, Mich. The series of tests was extensive; it spanned two weeks and included a brain scan and psychological tests, among other assessments. He was tested while both actively working out and resting.
"With all the things that's going on with the brain and stuff throughout the league, you definitely keep an eye on, you hear that stuff and you don't want—me especially. I don't want to have problems when I'm older," said Ngata, who has had one diagnosed concussion. "I want to be able to raise my kids and be able to play with them when they are older and still be able to beat them in wrestling matches and stuff when they are teenagers."
Ngata said he has changed his playing approach in recent years. In the early part of his career, he admitted, "I used my head a lot more," but he has learned new techniques that are safer.
As for the results of the tests? They were "pretty good, or really good, actually," Ngata said Thursday. "Brain is good to go, keep on hitting."
"I've talked to some of our PA guys here and trying to spread the word out more," Ngata said. "The better we can get at getting some of these athletes to go out and get those brain checks, it's safer and better for everyone."
Ngata said the positive evaluation led him to commit to another year of football—he is an 11-year NFL veteran—but continuing after that will be a year-to-year decision with his wife and family.