Laurent Robinson knows a thing or two about concussions.
Or three. Or four.
Robinson, a Rockledge High graduate, experienced that many — four head injuries with a temporary loss of brain function — last season with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
“I didn’t think they (the concussions) were that severe at first,” Robinson said. “I try to be the man, try to be the tough guy and try to fight through them and play through them. I ended up hurting myself in the long run: Causing myself to suffer more concussions by not taking the right protocol and not understanding the severity of it and the long-term effects.”
After one concussion-filled season, the Jaguars waived him — despite signing him to a five-year, $32.5 million contract with $14 million in guarantees — in March.
“You can’t explain why things happen, you just have to deal with them,” Robinson said. “I’m doing the best I can dealing with it. I’m having a positive attitude about it.”
Robinson’s positive attitude shows, especially when he’s back where he calls home. On Wednesday, the former Raider returned to his former stomping grounds on Rockledge High’s campus to promote player safety and concussion awareness.
“Rockledge is my roots,” Robinson said. “Without Rockledge I wouldn’t be where I am today football-wise. I wanted to give back after all that I’ve been through.”
Robinson, along with Impakt Protective Inc., dedicated 20 Shockbox impact alert sensors to be installed in Rockledge football players’ helmets. The wireless sensors transmit (via Bluetooth) a visual and audio signal to a user’s smartphone app to gauge the different types of at-risk hits a player has experienced. The immediate information helps coaches, parents and team medical staff better diagnose a potential concussion.
“Shockbox opened my eyes up to concussions,” Robinson said. “Players know when a hit is too hard, they know when they need to get the trainer and not be afraid to say that, you know, ‘My head is not feeling how it’s supposed to be feeling.’ “
The free-agent wideout hopes his experience with concussions opens the eyes of other football players. His message: Playing through a concussion is not worth it.
“Back in the day when concussions weren’t so big and talked about, the trainers on teams would just say, ‘Oh, shake it off. Take a play off or two and get back in there,’ ” Robinson said. “But it’s more severe than that: You’re causing brain damage to your head.”
Robinson learned the hard way, and now he’s working hard every day to get back to where he was before the concussions.
“I’ve been using this offseason to get healthy,” he said. “I’m taking this offseason to get fully healthy, take care of my body, and get my head fully healthy so I can get out there and play.”
About a month and a half ago, Robinson went to his neurologist to get medically cleared to play football again. He last saw an NFL field in November.
His doctor wouldn’t clear him to play.
A Jaguars team doctor medically cleared Robinson earlier this year in February, but Robinson told the Associated Press at the time that he disagreed with the clearance saying, “there’s no way (he) could line up and play a game tomorrow.”
Things are looking up for Robinson, however. He’s been cherishing his free time by spending it with his family: his wife, Kathryn, and 6-month-old daughter, Jade.
He’s also been concussion symptom-free since his most recent doctor’s visit.
“Now I think after all the working out I’ve done, I haven’t really suffered any symptoms and I feel concussion-symptom free,” Robinson said. “I’m feeling great. The more time, the better.
“Hopefully, when I get that call, I’ll be 110 percent.”