Former Buccaneers player reflects on teammate’s decision to donate brain for medical research

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) –  Ian Beckles will tell you the one thing matters more than everything else in life is a positive attitude.

“I try to always keep things positive and try not to worry. I can’t change the past,” he told News Channel 8 Tuesday night.

The former offensive lineman who played for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers talked openly about concussions in the NFL and the effects on former and current players after former teammate Warran Sapp spoke to the Players’ Tribune about his decision to donate his brain to medical research.

“Remember when Jack Nicholson said, ‘you can’t handle the truth.’ People don’t really want to know what’s happening in the NFL,” he said. “People act like they care, but when you’re dinged up and you’re seeing stars, they push you back on the field. That’s what happens.”

Beckles openly admits that the pressure to play, no matter what, is from the minors to athletes in the NFL. They realize that each game is everything when it comes to sustaining a career.

All those things Warren Sapp was talking about, I was right there with him,” said Beckles.

As far as concussions go, he says they happen every game, every play, especially involving the position that he played for nine seasons.

“As a lineman, every play, there’s collisions, and I’ve played since I was seven-years-old, so if you add up the collisions, that’s a whole lot of collisions.”

He tells us that he feels healthy in both body and spirit. But, he also admits that, like Sapp, sometimes his memory suffers.

“I do forget things, and I don’t know if it’s because I’m getting older or because I played football,” he admitted.

Beckles shared his thoughts on the physicality of the game and how it has changed from back when he played until now. He says he knew, even back then, that the hits the players were taking on the field, both in practice and in games, were most likely going to cause problems in the future.

“Whatever I did back in the day, they paid me a lot of money to smash my head into people. I took the money. I knew it wasn’t the smartest thing in the world. I didn’t know it was as detrimental I do now and that’s why it’s sneaky,” he told us.

“The NFL knew, the NFL’s known since the 80s what concussions do to people and they’ve hidden the whole time,” Beckles said.

No player, he explained, ever wants to show any sign of weakness.

“You get dinged, you get back in there because the young person behind you may get in there and you never get your job,” he said. “What people don’t realize, you’re wired a certain way as an athlete, so if you’re dinged, you know what an athlete doesn’t want to do? Say you’re dinged.”

He relates to what his former teammate says in the video just released.

“I do talk with a lot of players who are going through exactly what Warren is going through. I’m about to turn 50 this year, so he’s talking about how he’s needing his phone for information. I need my phone as well.”

In the end, one of the biggest fears for this former Buccaneers player?

That the NFL will not admit “what they knew.”


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