Mathias Kiwanuka played for the New York Giants from 2006 to 2014, helping the franchise to two Super Bowl titles. It was a wonderful time in his life.
But now? Now he’s worried about his long-term health.
“Oh yeah, absolutely – 24/7,” Kiwanuka said on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “Now being out of the game and having some time to reflect and going through these different studies and reading all these articled that I ignored while I was playing because I didn’t want to deal with it, it’s hard to ignore. It’s impossible to ignore at this point. I’m very concerned about it. We all are. We should be. It’s unfortunate that we weren’t given all the information that we needed to make the right decisions. It’s not necessarily that I would have changed whether or not I would have played, but I think it’s about whether I would have changed how I played the game.”
Kiwanuka compared it to driving a car with a seatbelt but without an airbag. You had some protection, but not all of the protection – or awareness – that you needed.
“You’d be kind of upset if you get in a car accident,” he said. “That’s my mindset. I think we need more research, more studies (and need) to make the game as safe as possible and give everybody all the information that they need. That’s the bottom line.”
Many people deserve blame for the players’ lack of knowledge about head trauma, but Kiwanuka, a first-round pick out of Boston College in 2006, would start at the top.
“I would say you go to start with the commissioner and go from there,” Kiwanuka said. “We don’t have all the information of who knew what at what point, but I think if we could get access to emails or records or studies that were conducted, that’s the only way that you can put the proper blame on anybody. If somebody didn’t know something, then there’s nothing that they could have done. But if they denied us access to information that they knew we could have used, that’s a problem.”
Kiwanuka, 33, said “there’s no doubt” that the league without information.
“Money talks,” he said. “This is a powerful league. It’s a powerful sport. The facts have already come out that there’s already information that could have been passed on to us back in the day and it wasn’t. For people in my generation, i will say we had more information than the people before us did. But watching guys who played in the ’70s and ’80s going through these horrible last years of their lives or committing suicide, that’s the hardest part. I feel like I was playing recent enough that I had good enough equipment and enough information that the later years of my life will be okay. But there are a lot of (older players) that just weren’t given that same kind of technology and the information they could have used. We got to hold those people accountable.”
Kiwanuka, needless to say, doesn’t have a whole lot of respect for the commissioner, whom he called “pretty much a figurehead.”
“I don’t know who’s actually controlling the decisions that are coming out of there,” he said, “but I don’t think that they necessarily have the players best interest at heart in that office. So respect for the position, yes. But the way that it’s been operated, the way it’s been run under this regime, I can’t say I do.”