Bears' chairman: Urlacher gave 'honest reaction' on concussions

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Chicago Bears chairman George McCaskey says Brian Urlacher was simply being honest when he told HBO he would hide concussion symptoms from team doctors.

McCaskey also was quick to point out his star linebacker didn't say that was the right thing to do.

McCaskey said it was just an "honest reaction" from someone who, like most players, doesn't want to let down his teammates and coaches.

"There's a warrior mentality, and this is exactly the reason we are here today," he said.

McCaskey was at Bears headquarters addressing high school coaches and players attending a health and safety forum put on by the team and the NFL on Wednesday.

Northwestern neurosurgeon Dr. Hunt Batjer, who is also the co-chair of the NFL Head, Neck & Spine Committee, and Dr. Elizabeth Pieroth of the Midwest Center for Concussion Care in suburban Chicago were on hand, as was Bears trainer Chris Hanks and long snapper Patrick Mannelly.

The long-term effects of repeated blows to the head have dominated discussions in the NFL, the NCAA and into high schools, with states passing laws intended to protect young athletes from trauma.

High-profile cases such as former Bears safety Dave Duerson's suicide and the suicide of professional wrestler Chris Benoit after he murdered his wife and young son have shined a light on the issue, but that "warrior mentality" remains.

There was Urlacher causing a stir recently when he told HBO during a "Real Sports" taping that he wouldn't be honest if he experienced symptoms.

McCaskey said Urlacher hasn't suffered a concussion "that I'm aware of" and that he was "just talking about a hypothetical situation."

"By his own admission, maybe not the wisest course of action," McCaskey said. "That shows his desire. And that shows the mentality."

The NFL has cracked down on flagrant hits in recent years and toughened its guidelines for treating players with concussion symptoms. It moved kickoffs up 5 yards to the 35 in an effort to reduce the number of hits players absorb, which Batjer said reduced concussions by 50 percent on those plays.

Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press

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