Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Artie Burns spoke with surprising certainty regarding CTE in a recent interview with Sports Illustrated. Burns was among a number of NFL players surveyed for an article on player concerns with brain injuries. Other topics dealt with diagnosing, testing, and living with it after retirement.
The general sentiment with the players interviewed was that they are very concerned about the effects of repeating hits to the head and are cautiously optimistic about the future of equipment and medicine.
Burns, however, was the one that offered the article’s most noteworthy quote.
When asked if he would take a yet-to-be-made CTE test, Burns is quoted in Sports Illustrated as answering with the following:
I definitely know I have it. I’m going to [test positive for] CTE. I don’t need a test. Is it going to tell me how much I have? We play a physical sport, man. Humans are not made to run into each other.
Burns is just 22-years-old. It’s nothing short of startling to hear such a young player – and one who plays a position not all that associated with repeated head-to-head contact – speak with such conviction about such a serious issue. And that speaks to the growing moral conundrum football finds itself these days.
Further, it’s not even as if Burns has been injury-plagued. The opposite, in fact.
In the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Steelers beat reporter Adam Bittner reported:
Burns has not been diagnosed with a concussion so far in his NFL career. He’s played in every game in two seasons with the Steelers. And he had a similar clean bill of health at Miami, where he played in at least 11 games for each of his three seasons as a Hurricane.
Burns was a first-round draft pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2016 (taken 25th overall). Thus far, in his two years as a pro, Burns has accounted for 29 games started, three interceptions, and 90 tackles (plus assisted on 17 more tackles).