Rice details bruising career before declaring brain donation

Tue Mar 3, 2015 6:22pm EST
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By Larry Fine

NEW YORK (Reuters) - It was a long road to a shortened National Football League career for Sidney Rice, an All-Pro receiver who retired last July at age 27 due to fears about his long-term health after numerous concussions.

"The first time I actually experienced a head trauma was when I was eight years old," Rice told Reuters after announcing on Tuesday he was donating his brain to medical research after his death.

"I didn't know it was a concussion at the time but I was in a head-on collision with another kid coming around the corner and it was the first time I'd seen stars.

"I only thought that was in cartoons. But at that age you don't know to tell your parents, to tell the coach, so I went back in the game and continued to play."

Rice announced his organ donor effort along with New York Giants punter Steve Weatherford to mark Brain Injury Awareness Month and promote EHT, a supplement derived from coffee by Princeton scientists that protects and defends against chronic inflammation of the brain.

The high incidence of degenerative brain disease in former players led thousands of former NFL players to press for and win a settlement with the league over future health costs that could end up costing $1 billion.

Rice estimated he had sustained between 15 to 20 concussions from football, recalling one with mixed emotions.

"There was a bittersweet moment when we won a game in overtime versus the Chicago Bears, and I caught the touchdown pass and I was all sprawling and hit directly in the back of my head. ... I was out cold for maybe 30 seconds.   Continued...

Former Seattle Seahawks receiver Sidney Rice (L) is helped by New York Giants punter Steve Weatherford to sign over his brain post-mortem for medical research at a news conference in New York March 3, 2015. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid