After ‘Over 2 Dozen’ Concussions, Ex-Steelers QB Has Message for Kenny Pickett

Steelers QB Kenny Pickett

Justin K. Aller/Getty Images Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett is looked over by trainers after being injured against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on October 16, 2022.

On Friday morning, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett was cleared from concussion protocol, as per Steelers director of communications Burt Lauten. That means that Pickett, 24, is on track to start on Sunday night against the Miami Dolphins, despite suffering a concussion last Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, in just the third game of his young career.

In the midst of Pickett preparing to return to action, former Steelers quarterback Kordell Stewart appeared on 93.7 The Fan (Pittsburgh) with The PM Team of Andrew Fillipponi & Chris Mueller. Among other things, Stewart — who turned 50 on October 16th — was asked how many concussions he suffered during his playing days.

Kordell Stewart Had ‘Well Over 2-Dozen Concussions’

“I would say, well over two-dozen,” he began. “As to the severity, there’s levels. Again, layman’s terms, if you’re going 1 the lowest, 5 the highest, I’ve had quite a few 2s, for sure. And from what I do remember after the fact, I’ve had about a dozen 5s — the kind when you’re ‘out’ and you don’t remember anything until you come back and you watch film….”

That’s a startling admission from ‘Slash’, a former 2nd-round pick who played for the Steelers for eight seasons (1995-2002), before closing out his career with the Chicago Bears (2003) and Baltimore Ravens (2004-05).

The former quarterback — who spent the first two years of his career in a wide receiver/running back/quarterback role, hence the ‘Slash’ nickname — did say that knowledge and awareness about concussions has made the game safer today.

“Before — if your bell was rung — or if you said ‘I feel a little dizzy’” you could go back out there and play, he indicated. But looking back now, he realizes it wasn’t smart to return to the field prematurely.

“Because of the lack of understanding as to what it was, I was putting myself in even more danger,” he added.

Kordell Stewart’s Message for Steelers QB Kenny Pickett

That said, the onetime Pro Bowler offered a bit of advice for Kenny Pickett going forward.

“I’m not a doctor, in all fairness, ’cause I don’t want to step over the toes of the guys that are doing a great job with the Steelers, which they’ve done for many years when it comes to injuries…. However, if was me talking to Kenny Pickett I would say, ‘Listen to yourself. Be transparent with yourself (and) don’t try to overdo it,’” he said, having already emphasized the seriousness of concussions.

“It’s something that needs to be paid attention to, it’s not a game, it’s not funny. It doesn’t mean a guy is not tough. If you play the game you’re tough already,” he noted.

That said, many NFL observers are questioning — or examining — how and why Pickett passed through concussion protocol at a faster pace than other players.

According to Fillipponi, via “Pro Football Doc” David J. Chao, “Kenny Pickett is the 1st player to return to full practice 3 days after suffering a brain injury. Also, only 6 (of 39) players all year have returned to play a game a week after a concussion.”

For what it’s worth, four Steelers players have suffered concussions since Dolphins starting quarterback Tua Tagovailoa suffered two concussions in just four days. The other three — strong safety Terrell Edmunds, cornerback Levi Wallace and tight end Pat Freiermuth — were all held out of the team’s next game.

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