Orthopedic surgeon Dr. Mark Adickes likes to joke he's gone from making patients to fixing them.
"For me it was all about doing something with the rest of my life that one, could tie my two careers together and two would be really interesting and challenging."
He knows all about challenging. The first round draft pick out of Baylor played two seasons with the USFL. Then four years with the Kansas City Chiefs and then on to the Washington Redskins where he was part of the 1991 Super Bowl
championship team. He says all those years he developed what most players do, tunnel vision, seeing nothing besides or beyond football.
"Anyone who is playing the sport at an elite level such that they can play professional sports isn't thinking much about anything else."
He wasn't part of it, but he's glad the players have settled the lawsuit with the NFL and he says while all the focus is on concussions nowadays there's something else. He remembers getting into what he calls "hitting shape" before every season.
"Everyone calls it helmet head which is an excruciating headache that doesn't go away for about a week while you get used to smashing your brain around in your skull."
He says eventually your brain swells that's not good either and may have long term consequences as well.
He had nine concussions but made it out of the game mentally okay after being injured. Okay, enough to go back to college, then to Harvard Medical School. He knows he's lucky.
He thinks the game is getting safer but for the pros it doesn't really matter. When you combine the rewards of the game and that tunnel vision, few factor in the long term risks.
"For the guys that don't have another alternative, they're not going to run off to law school or med school or engineering school and they can play football and put together a nest egg that will last them the rest of their lives. I don't think there's anything you could say that would dissuade them from playing."
He says his own sons play ball now and it worries him. Should they start getting concussions or any injuries that could affect their long term health, he will sit down and talk to them about quitting the sport.