It's no secret that the NFL has historically turned a willfully blind eye to the dangers of concussions. But according to former NFL cornerback Bryant McFadden, it wasn't just a lack of protocol that heightened the risk of brain injuries -- it was a code of toughness that players adhered to.
Similar to the way numerous NFL players have said they would try to hide a concussion from the training staff, McFadden said head injuries were referred to as "blips" by the team during his playing days. McFadden last played in the NFL in 2011.
Speaking with Jason McIntyre on his radio show, McFadden explained how the team maintained a culture detrimental to players' mental health:
"We had a rule in Pittsburgh -– we used to call it the 'Prom Date' rule. Everybody goes to prom … when you get your date and put your arm underneath your date, you take that picture … you don't want to get prom escorted off the field. A man doesn't get prom escorted off the football field."
McFadden also explained that he thought concussions indicated that he was doing his job well as a cornerback. Although he mentioned the development of headaches in his post-playing days, he also feels that his sacrifices were worth what he gained from football -- an education his parents couldn't have otherwise afforded and financial stability for himself and his family.
McFadden is only 33, though, so the worst of his head injury consequences are likely yet to come.