Chris Conte understands the risks of playing football. He knows repeated blows to the head and the wear and tear on the rest of his body are likely to shorten his lifespan.

And for him, it's all worth it.

"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," he said on WBBM-AM radio in Chicago. "I don't really look toward my life after football. I'll figure things out when I get there.

"As long as I outlive my parents."


The Bears defensive back has endured plenty of physical hardship at just 25 years old. This season alone, he has suffered two concussions. He also missed Monday night's game with a back injury.

Conte is in his fourth season in the NFL after playing college football at Cal. This offseason he will be a free agent for the first time, and he'll likely be looking at a nice pay raise from his rookie contract.

Maybe that income will make the physical ramifications all the more worth it for Conte. But then, based on evidence of even active NFL players suffering the effects of repeated concussions and brain injuries -- and given Conte's concussions history -- it can't be ruled out that those long-term risks are already taking root.

"My mom, especially, definitely worries about me, but they know this is what I want to do, and it’s what makes me happy," Conte told WBBM. " ... And I’m going to do everything I can to continue to play football for as long as I can."

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