Drew Brees, the quarterback for the New Orleans Saints, has taken some pretty hard hits in his career and knows the dangers involved with playing football professionally.
That's why he's lent his name to the PACE program - Protecting Athletes through Concussion Education - to make the sport safer. The PACE campaign teams with ImPACT, a widely-used computerized concussion evaluation system. All the NFL teams and many NHL teams use this technology.
Brees, 33, joined us this morning along with many 'Who Dat?' Nation fans to discuss the importance of raising awareness to the danger of concussions. He said the most important thing is "Knowing how to recognize them, identify them and then treat them."
Brees explained, "In a lot of cases, I think for me as a young athlete, there was times where, hey, I got my bell rung. Well, getting your bell rung can be a mild concussion or a concussion. So this raises that awareness."
PACE is a program that provides free concussion testing for more than 3,300 middle and high schools and youth sports organizations nationwide. Their ultimate goal is to have one million kids tested this year, making it the largest concussion baseline program ever.
According to research published in May's issue of the journal Neurology, a football player could sustain 8,000 hits over the course of a four-year high school and a four-year college career.
Baseline tests are important, doctors say, because they show what can't be seen - cognitive function. Baseline testing, together with a preseason evaluation, help keep concussions to a minimum, and reduce their effects when they happen.
PACE is the first national program of its kind to offer the ImPACT baseline tests. The program was started by the Dick's Sporting Goods Foundation.
Starting June 26, parents, athletes, coaches, teachers and anyone who wants to sign their school up can log onto dickssportinggoods.com/PACE to receive the free testing.