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Favre: I suffered 'hundreds, probably thousands' of concussions

Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre is sacked by the Buffalo Bills defense during first-half action at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, New York on Sunday, Sept. 10, 2000. (Dwight Nale/Appleton Post-Crescent)

Field Level Media

Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre believes he has suffered "hundreds, probably thousands" of concussions over his football life and said if he had a son, he would try to convince him not to play football.

The former Green Bay Packers icon told NBC News' Megyn Kelly on Thursday's "TODAY" show that while he was only diagnosed with three or four confirmed concussions, he has had the sensation of "getting dinged" on countless occasions.

"When you have ringing of the ears, seeing stars, that is a concussion," Favre said. "If that is a concussion, I've had hundreds, probably thousands, throughout my career, which is frightening.

"If I had a son myself... I would really, really, strongly discourage him from playing. And that seems to surprise people when I tell them."

Favre shared his opinions as part of a panel discussion about concussions in sports, along with fellow Hall of Fame QB Kurt Warner, retired 15-year MLB veteran David Ross and U.S. Women's National Team soccer legend Abby Wambach. The four former athletes are involved as investors in a company developing a drug, Prevasol, they hope can help in treatment of concussions. Prevasol has not yet been approved by the Food and Drug Administration and is still undergoing clinical trials.

While on a conference call in January ahead of the airing of his documentary "Shocked: A Hidden Factor in the Sports Concussion Crisis" on the Stadium Network, Favre said he played through a concussion during the 2009 NFC Championship Game against the New Orleans Saints when he was with the Minnesota Vikings.

"A concussion doesn't necessarily have to be knocked out cold and removed from a game, although the new protocol is in place to remove you from a game even if you're not walking sideways or your arm goes stiff or whatever," Favre said.

"You may even be able to function as if you didn't have a concussion, but if you have head ringing or fireworks or any kind of fogginess, protocol says you should be removed from the game. In that game, there was some head ringing, there was some fogginess. There were two times in which I was hit by [former Saints safety] Darren Sharper late. He lunged at my head and both of them were pretty devastating hits, but I stayed in the game. One they threw a flag, one they didn't. Why they didn't throw the other, I have no idea. If head ringing or fireworks is a concussion, yeah, I did have that."

Favre said the 2009 title game was the most violent he'd ever experienced throughout his 20-year career. The contest went on to be part of the Saints' bounty scandal that led to coach Sean Payton being suspended an entire season after allegations that New Orleans was paying out bounties for intentionally hurting opposing players were determined by the NFL to be true.

In making his media rounds ahead of the documentary's premiere, Favre had told multiple outlets he hopes his grandsons play a safer sport than football.

"I got three grandsons," Favre said on The Rich Eisen Show. "I'm not going to encourage them to play football, I'm not going to discourage them, but I would much rather be a caddie for them in golf than watch them play football."