New York Giants safety Julian Love on Aug. 7, 2022.

New York Giants safety Julian Love on Aug. 7, 2022. Credit: Noah K. Murray

As he recovered from his concussion last week, Julian Love made a decision.

“I told myself I owe it to my wife and I owe it to my family to be completely honest with the process,” he told Newsday on Wednesday.

That meant not trying to rush his way through the protocols by denying or hiding symptoms from the trainers evaluating him, even if it meant he would miss the game against the Packers — which is what coaches were bracing for.

“I told the guys I was going to do everything by the book,” he said. “All week I felt pretty good. I put it in [the trainers’] hands and they cleared me.”

Just in time for him to make the trip to London and play on Sunday.

When he suffered the injury a week earlier against the Bears, though, such rational thoughts were not part of any internal discussions.

Love was removed from the game after a spotter in the booth at MetLife Stadium saw him take contact to his head while making a tackle. Play was already stopped because teammate Aaron Robinson suffered a knee injury in another area of the field. While trainers were tending to the cornerback, an official came over to Love who was standing on the field and pointed him toward the Giants sideline. He was brought to the locker room for an evaluation that revealed the concussion.

But even though he felt what previous generations of players would call “getting their bell rung,” Love said had the spotter not called down to initiate the process he would have kept on playing.

“Stubbornly and wrongly I wouldn’t have [come out],” he said sheepishly. “It’s one of those things that in the moment you are not thinking about the possible ramifications of your actions. That was a mistake I made. I’m glad they called down. They made the right call. But yeah, I would have stayed in.”

That was only three days after Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was writhing on the ground on national television after taking a hit from the Bengals, so concussion awareness was certainly on everyone’s mind around the league. And Love is not ignorant of current events. He is widely considered to be among the brightest and sharpest players on the team. He knows the long-term dangers of such injuries.

Yet even he, wanted to keep playing. With a concussion.

“That,” he said, “is something the game has to be better about and I have to be better about.”

It’s as much an illustration of how hard it can be to convince players to police themselves as it is one of the system that has come under tremendous scrutiny in recent weeks working as intended.

It also underscores the most important element in all of it: honesty.

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