Haloti Ngata made sure this offseason that he was healthy from head to toe – with the emphasis on head – before committing to playing his 12th NFL season and third with the Detroit Lions.
For the first time in his career, Ngata underwent a thorough neurological examination to determine if he has sustained any injuries or damage to his brain from playing defensive tackle.
The results from what he said was a two-week process at a clinic in Brighton showed no damage.
"The brain is good to go," Ngata said cheerfully this week. "Keep hitting."
Ngata was not making light of the seriousness of the potential for brain injuries for athletes competing in contact sports. It is an issue that has come into greater focus, and scrutiny, in recent years.
Ngata said he has sustained only one confirmed concussion in his career. The testing process was spread out over two weeks, Ngata said.
"I just went and talked with a neurologist," he said. "I wanted to make sure my head was good. He said everything was pretty good – really good, actually."
Haloti, 34, and his wife, Christina, have three sons. Haloti wants to make sure he is able to live a normal life after he retires from football. He was being proactive in having the test and did not do it because of any symptoms.
"Just to make sure, with all the things that are going on with the brain and stuff throughout the league,' Ngata said. "I don't want to have problems when I'm older.
"I want to be able to raise my kids and be able to play with them when they're older – still be able to beat them in wrestling matches."
He has lived in Detroit in the offseason since being acquired in a trade with the Ravens in March of 2015.
"That was my first one (test)," Ngata said. "Lucky for me, there's a great neurologist here. I didn't have to travel anywhere, I was able to stay here and see the doctor.
"Everybody's different – different levels. Me having kids, three kids, boys, you start to wonder. I want to make sure I'm able to raise them. That was on mind -- definitely why I did it."