“One of those lessons that football taught me came back to me, and suddenly seemed very handy: Do everything in your power today to ensure a positive outcome in the future.” – Hardwick on His Proactive Approach to Brain Health
“What gets lost in the conversation on the game’s health and safety issues comes down to a really simple question: Did it add more to your life or take away more? Without a doubt, it added more to my life.” – Hardwick
FMIA Also Features Hardwick’s Thoughts on Chargers QB Philip Rivers, the Positive Impact of the Game and Letting his Children Play Football
STAMFORD, Conn. – June 10, 2019 – In the latest edition of Peter King’s Football Morning in America, available now exclusively on NBCSports.com, guest writer Nick Hardwick, who spent 11 seasons as a center with the Chargers, discusses his approach to post-playing brain health and chronicles the innovative treatment he’s received.
Hardwick, who retired in 2015 and now works as a radio host in San Diego, also shares his thoughts about the future of the sport, playing with Philip Rivers and why he would let his own children play football.
The following are highlights from this week’s edition of Football Morning in America:
POST-NFL BRAIN HEALTH
Hardwick: “To keep busy and stay close to the game, I went to work almost immediately on the radio in San Diego…I felt as healthy as I had ever been since my freshman year of college…I still felt I had more cognitive ability left untapped, because my brain wasn’t necessarily firing on all cylinders.”
Hardwick: “I came to realize and accept my fate that as a former football player, I had accumulated about 25,000-plus head hits over the course of my playing career…It’s easy to see the hits accumulate quickly at the position I played. I was diagnosed with six verified concussions in the NFL, but I still never missed a game due to one of them, a gut-it-out approach I would not recommend to kids or anyone else.”
Hardwick: “I knew that I had a decision to make and some sort of action to take. While there was no erasing the time I had spent banging heads and colliding with defenders—and I wouldn’t take it back if I could…because it was the time of my life with so many lessons learned—it wasn’t enough just to plow through the low ebbs in life…One of those lessons that football taught me came back to me, and suddenly seemed very handy: Do everything in your power today to ensure a positive outcome in the future.”
Hardwick: “At age 37, I didn’t want whatever neurologic decline had already occurred to continue without me becoming more proactive…my emotional highs and lows were unnatural, unwanted, and unacceptable.”
Hardwick: “That’s when I remembered my conversations with my Navy SEAL pal, Pat, and immediately googled ‘Brain Treatment Center San Diego.’ Two short weeks later, I walked in to a nondescript medical building in downtown San Diego…For five days a week over six weeks, I went back and sat in that same chair…sending magnetic stimulation into the targeted areas of my brain, at first to assemble neuronal activity, and then to mobilize it in the right pattern…The results showed there were improved physical changes in my brain activity following the treatment.”
Hardwick: “I’m two or three months past my last treatment, and I can honestly say my brain is in a better place than it was before. The emotional highs and lows I was living with have been stabilized. My cognition took off during that period and it hasn’t slowed down since. Overall, I’d definitely recommend the treatment to other former football players.”
Hardwick: “Taking charge of your situation, whatever it may be, is powerful and empowering in itself. Knowing that I didn’t quit, and will never stop seeking tools to help me repair and grow had its own positive benefits.”
ON THE POSITIVE IMPACT OF FOOTBALL
Hardwick: “When the worth of football is being evaluated by skeptical parents and politicians, what gets lost in the conversation on the game’s health and safety issues comes down to a really simple question: Did it add more to your life or take away more? Without a doubt, it added more to my life.”
Hardwick: “It shaped me as a man…From a maturity standpoint, with the necessary learning of how to handle both success and defeat, football players can leave the game at age 30, with the wisdom of a much older man.”
Hardwick: “We know it’s dangerous. We know there are potentially bad outcomes. That’s part of what makes it fun in the first place…Football gives football players what they want out of their life experience. Further, for even a more select few, it gives them what they NEED in life.”
ON LETTING HIS CHILDREN PLAY
Hardwick: “I would, 100 percent (let my kids play football). Admittedly, immediately out of the league, I would’ve given a different answer than now. But the dust has settled after my retirement due to injury.”
Hardwick: “While the negative press about the dangers of the sport has died down over the past couple of years thanks to the necessary rule changes the NFL implemented, our awareness is still heightened.”
ON LONGTIME TEAMMATE PHILIP RIVERS
Hardwick: “While I’m fairly sure the negative perceptions about Phil and his strong personality have lessened over the years, it bears saying here: If you ever met Rivers, you’d immediately fall in love with him as a human.”
Hardwick: “He’s pure of thought, pure of action, and pure in his passion. Go back through his 15-year NFL tenure and I can guarantee you will not find a single teammate who has spoken poorly of him.”
Read the rest of the column here.
A new “Football Morning in America” posts every Monday morning exclusively on NBCSports.com through the NFL season. It was announced in May that King signed an exclusive agreement with NBC Sports Group that included writing a weekly Monday morning NFL column for NBCSports.com; making regular appearances on NBCSN’s and NBC Sports Radio’s PFT Live with Mike Florio; and continuing to contribute to Football Night in America, the most-watched studio show in sports.
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