“Even if they make us laugh by telling their stories of head injuries, that doesn’t mean we’re taking the topic of traumatic brain injury lightly,” explained Emmy-award-winning medical journalist Dr. Max Gomez.  “The power of these athletes’ messages is important to get the word out about young athletes and their coaches taking head injury seriously, even if that wasn’t the way they did it back in the old days.”  Boxer Gerry Cooney confessed that today he considers himself lucky to have been passed over by promoter Don King for title fights years ago.  “All the guys who got the fights got concussed, and a lot of them are not doing very well today.  Some, like Muhammed Ali, even died because of it,” Cooney said.  “And today, even though my teen-aged daughter has some great boxing skills and could do well in the ring, I won’t let her fight.  It’s too dangerous.”

Other celebrity athletes, from America’s winningest jockey Ramon Dominguez to 12-year NFL defensive lineman Marty Lyons to Pro Bowl wide receiver Rich Caster and college and NFL veteran and youth sports injury awareness advocate John Nitti all shared their personal stories of brain injury at the NYIT Center for Sports Medicine forum.   “Now that we know the impact of head injuries,” explained John Nitti, “we’re changing how young people learn to play football.  How my kids practice and play the game today is a lot safer than how I played it.  And that’s how we’re going to keep our kids in the game.”