Artie Burns Claims He ‘Knows’ He Has CTE

Sports Illustrated ran an interesting article Wednesday morning. And perhaps Artie Burns’ response was most interesting and frankly, pretty scary. SI asked several current NFL players that if a test existed to test players for CTE, a chronic and degenerative brain disease that’s led to the death of many players, if they would take it.

Burns said he didn’t need the test. He believes he already has the disease. Here’s his full response.

I definitely know I have it. I’m going to [test positive for] CTE. I don’t need a test. Is it going to tell me how much I have? We play a physical sport, man. Humans are not made to run into each other.”

To be clear, there is no current test for CTE in a living player (they can be tested after their death). So there’s no way Burns can know with 100% confidence if he has it or not. But it seems like Burns is implying he has some symptoms that would indicate he’s dealing with the early stages of the disease. Either that or he’s offering a blanket statement that all players suffer from it because of the nature of the game. I don’t know if that answer is any more comforting.

Burns has never been formally listed with a concussion in his NFL career and I can’t find any record of him suffering one in college. That, of course, doesn’t mean he’s never suffered a head injury.

Though he’s young, we’ve seen young players, most famously Chris Borland, walk away from the game at an early age to avoid the disease’s long-term effects. Steelers’ fans know the history of the disease well. Several have suffered from it, including Mike Webster. If you know his story, you know how tragic the final years of his life were.

Other responses in the interview varied. Some players, like Lions’ linebacker Tahir Whitehead, said they would take such a test, while others, like Seahawks’ defensive end Dion Jordan, replied they wouldn’t. The answers were even more mixed when asked if the league should mandate such a test before entering the NFL.

While there is no test that exists today, given the advancement in the medical field, there could very well be one within the next five to ten years. That could be a game changer in the NFL.

About the Author

Alex Kozora
Full-time blogger from mom's basement. Marrying tape and statistics. Chidi Iwuoma is my favorite Steeler of all-time.
  • FATCAT716

    Not sure how he got it when I never seen him getting physical on a tackle

  • NinjaMountie

    Okay….that was good. Truly made me LOL.

  • Danny Porter

    Seems like an odd thing to say. Does he mention any symptoms?

  • PaeperCup

    😀 hahaha

  • FATCAT716

    Sad but true

  • PaeperCup

    Of course he does. 100% of NFL players have it.

  • pittsburghjoe

    Oh, heck… here comes Gloria Allred.

  • Sam Clonch

    Busted coverages.

  • Chad Weiss

    I think he has a case of missed tackles as well

  • John Pennington

    Is that the reason he cant tackle anyone or know where to be in coverage.Burns is not a steeler corner and the team would be wise to draft his replacement in the next draft and cut their losses with Burns and Davis.Neither of these guys have up side both dont know where to be in coverage both can’t tackle and both don’t care who knows it.Cut both of them at the end of the season because one or both will blow the big game its coming.Sit Burns down save the season.

  • ThatGuy

    He doesn’t hit anyone hard enough to have it

  • Ichabod

    His play seems to confirm his diagnosis

  • Richard Edlin

    Well, that’s one player who’s going to be a star witness for the NFL when the next big class action suit gets filed …

  • pittfan


  • SteelersGeek4Lyfe

    We need to clean house. Cut Burns. Cut Hilton. Cut Davis. Cut Mitchell. Cut Haden. Cut Sensabaugh. Cut Gay. Cut Allen. Cut Sutton. Cut Watt. Cut Dupree. Cut Tuitt. Cut Heyward. Cut Brown. Cut Bell. Cut Smith-Schuster. Cut Bryant. Cut Decastro. Cut Villanueva. Cut Roethlisberger. Cut Gilbert. Cut Foster. Fire Tomlin. Fire Butler. Fire Haley. Fire Colbert.

  • Absolutely true. As a tackler, he makes Gerod Holliman look like Deebo in his prime […well, maybe that’s an exaggeration;<] Still, he must have taken headshots at "The U" cause he certainly hasn't taken or given many here. Either way, perhaps this explains his 'flag football' approach to tackling. If so, the Steelers need to replace him because it's a tackling sport, and arm tackles don't cut it.

  • Except has he ever been diagnosed with a concussion while with the Black & Gold?

  • Orlysteel

    Sad, he should take the exam and if he has it he should retire, life is too precious.

  • Richard Edlin

    That’s the point though. Burns doesn’t have diagnosed CTE, doesn’t have a concussion or anything specific to point to in terms of having CTE, but still expects it as part of the job.

    If you can paint him as being reasonable in assuming this (and given the prevalence in other players when tested), then he becomes central in a case arguing that a reasonable player would assume this to be part and parcel of the risks that they assume when they draw a salary in the NFL.

    As long as players are making statements like this and the NFL is seen to be doing what it can to prevent headshots – and a targeting rule is nearly inevitable on these grounds – then it’s going to be hard for any existing player to argue that the NFL is culpable for the long term harm caused to them by playing this sport.

  • PittShawnC

    “… there could very well be one within the next five to ten years. ”

    Oh it’s coming. As ive posted here a few times recently, it’s coming. Dr. Omalu estimates five more years.

    Enjoy this game while you can. That test will open Pandora’s Box.

  • PittShawnC

    Google “living player CTE” and read up. First test in a living player confirmed in November

  • Alex K

    Beat me to it.

  • Sam Clonch

    You forgot the Rooney’s should give the team away to the Patriots.

  • Ed Smith

    Lol, was thinking same!

  • Ed Smith

    Runs around in circles on the field…

  • Marcel Chris Chauvet

    Sounds to me like he figures all players have CTE. Makes sense to think that way. He’s correct when he talks about how human beings aren’t designed for activities like football. He may well be correct. To what extent each individual suffers from the disease or what degree it is ultimately expressed could be on a case by case basis. It doesn’t sound like he’s bothered by the idea.

  • Crashcrash777


  • Retire now.

  • pittfan

    all prudent steps under the circumstances.

  • treeher

    Novel excuse for bad play.

  • Kevin Schwartz

    Kinda sounds like he doesn’t know what it is, and assumes he has it because all players in the NFL knocks head. Doesn’t sound like he’s saying he actually has symptoms.

  • Josh Gustad

    You just beat probably over 50 people to this haha

  • Michael Mosgrove

    how could you have cte? you never hit anyone.

    i hate you so much burns. you’re a bum. you got paid and now you dont want to earn the money. just leave. you freaking lamarr woodley wannabe.

  • Michael Mosgrove

    you jerk you beat me to it.

  • John Pennington

    Burns is a under achieving player who goes thru the motions and Davis still can’t figure it out where to be in coverage.So if you think they should be on the field fine but I think the team can do better and Sundays game will prove me right.

  • VERY good analysis! I hadn’t considered your points, and they’re all good!

  • SkoolHouseRoxx

    He’s just being honest. What’s all the hostility for? 🙄

  • dany

    Have you met steelers fans before?

  • Lambert58

    I understand his concern, but it doesn’t bode well for his commitment to the game long-term.

  • gdeuce

    cut them both immediately, sign Keenan Lewis and another washed up player to replace them

  • heath miller

    LOL ME TOOO .. but like another member said dont you have to hit someone to get it ? unless the G Force of WRs running by him can maybe cause it ? Then hes got it big time

  • heath miller

    we need to draft 7 WRs in the draft … thats the key…. get 7 great WRs .. n one can draft WRs like the steeleers.. then trade them off for starting DBs bcause we can draft them for S*&T… problem solved.. look at thi D without Joe … terrible .. so are least draft 3 or 4 WRs and trade them off for established CBs ? ..

  • SkoolHouseRoxx

    Oh, I have!

  • SkoolHouseRoxx

    I don’t understand how what he said makes him less committed. He loves football and he’s playing it. When he wants to hang it up he will.

  • SteelersGeek4Lyfe

    Things were so much better with Blake and Lewis.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    I wish the best for all the players in the NFL and my thoughts would be that I am playing for the betterment of my wife, kids and grand kids future. I am sacrificing myself for others. At least in the NFL you get paid well for the risks they take which cannot be said the same for other professions.

  • Sdale

    Something tells me you could take a slice of his brain for testing while he’s alive and it really wouldn’t have any effect on him.

  • Surrealist

    Yet he will keep playing and make it worse, cuz he needs those benjamins yo.

  • Michael Mosgrove

    hes gone jason worilds in his second season. waste of a pick. he is a bum.

  • Matthew Marczi

    Sure are a whole lot of insults in this comment section. What a classy bunch.

  • Reader783

    Jeez…he’s still on a rookie deal, not sure when he got “paid” unless being drafted is being “paid” now.

    Also, you hate him? For what? Making a mistake in coverage here and there? He was pretty good against the Ravens sans 2 BS PI calls, and he sure was pretty passionate about the terrible PI call. Seems like he really wants to win for this team.

  • Mike Lloyd

    Is this why he won’t support the run and tackle a RB?

  • Michael James

    In all honesty, I don’t know why he’s saying this now.
    If he truly thinks that he already has CTE from the amount of hits he suffered while playing CB, than let me tell you this: If that’s the case every hockey player, soccer player and whatsoever has to have CTE.
    He isn’t playing in the trenches (where you get hit hard every single play) and then he surely isn’t even physical when he gets to tackle (let alone getting blows to the head).

  • Mike C.

    It’s from whipping his head around as receivers blow by him week after week. He will also test positive for chronic whiplash.

  • walter

    I guess he has symptoms or he is setting up a future lawsuit

  • kev4heels

    With his family situation, I wonder if Artie isn’t thinking of retirement at the end of his first contract.

  • Lambert58

    He plays a very dangerous game and that type of attitude sounds like one foot out the door – fear clouding his thoughts imo. (Opposite of the attitude of say, Ronnie Lott, who told the trainers to cut the end of his finger off so he could get back in the game. lol)

  • I agree it was a blanket statement meant to cover all players. Not a big deal as far as I’m concerned.

  • Michael Mosgrove

    5.2 million is a fairly large sum of money so year he is “paid”.

    he is an average at best player. he was overdrafted which is the front office’s fault for reaching.
    as far as the ravens game i rewatched the entire game multiple times. he gave up 5 plays. not even talking about the stupid pi’s. he mentally checks out for multiple plays a game, doesnt tackle well, shies away from contact, has oodles of penalties.

    the dude might be trying to take care of his family which is fine but at the same time he is skating by because of his draft stock and not actually trying. then to whine about having CTE on top of it when he barely does anything in the first place is ridiculous.

    it’s like when i was in the military, getting everything ready for a bird to launch. i get the tanks fueled, make sure the armaments were prepared, all the switches and plugs set. artie burns would be the guy that makes sure the urine extraction tube is sitting right.

    not to mention this is my opinion, you’re free to have your own.

  • RaleighSteelersFan

    I see a similarity to some charity work I did. We worked to help people avoid or living with HIV- AIDS. I heard several times that young gay males felt that eventually they will test positive for HIV so why avoid it. To them, knowing they had it was better than fearing they might.

    While I appreciate that most of the comments in this thread are meant in goodish fun or at least not hoping he has CET, I think we should project some of our fears on to this situation. There are two types of women in the world, those that have had breast cancer and those that fear they will. For most men it is prostrate or colon cancer.

    I am not sure getting cancer is better than fearing it but I for one am not going to judge how another manages their fears. I have mine and I don’t want you to think you would manage it better.

    One man’s 2 pennies.

  • Steel Realist PAul

    Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a neurodegenerative disease found in people who have had multiple head injuries. Symptoms may include behavioral problems, mood problems, and problems with thinking. This typically does not begin until years after the injuries. It often gets worse over time and can result in dementia.

  • Steel Realist PAul

    For sure the issue will have new light drawn to it. But, you know what.. with the kind of money players are paid, and the world we live in.. there will always be those willing to take the check and take their chances.

    I think fewer kids will be playing and there will be less people playing altogether, but those helmets will still be worn come Sunday.

  • Gizmosteel

    Can we go one frickin week without someone saying or tweeting something stupid?!?!

  • SkoolHouseRoxx

    Sounds like I know what I’ve signed up for. Just like Mitchell.

  • gdeuce

    so if he were a really good player, you would be ok with him “whining” about him thinking he has CTE?

  • 570toHero

    What a pathetic thing to use that as an excuse for his poor play when there are people who are actually suffering from it. Look for him to quit and try to sue.

  • 570toHero

    What a cowardly way to try to stop discussion.

  • SteelersGeek4Lyfe

    l-o-l go suck yourself off. You’ve never demonstrated an ounce of intestinal fortitude in your life you grub.

  • SteelersGeek4Lyfe

    woah… tell us how you really feel

  • Rob

    The thing is the NFL tries to make it safer. fans and players complain. Its a hard balance

  • Rob

    Don’t know why I thought you might have been overexaggerating here. Some of these are brutal, but just proves my point of why I never defend Steelers fans. Many are just not great humans.

  • ThatGuy

    Almost as classy as the guy judging a bunch of strangers….

  • ThatGuy


  • WreckIess

    I don’t think making fun of a guy talking about a potential brain disorder is the same as scolding someone for doing it.

  • WreckIess

    This is probably the most dense and petulant take that I’ve seen on his comments. Congrats Mikey.

  • Michael Mosgrove

    no. if he wants to whine about it he can retire. no one is forcing him to play. he can get a job.

  • Mark

    Burns sucks. How dare he say this…

  • Kevin Reich

    No Artie you just don’t have any football IQ. Wouldn’t give him a long term deal.

  • Kevin Reich

    Tomlin wouldn’t play them.

  • Kevin Reich

    What’s worse. Arm tackle or Davis’s no arms at all tackle?

  • Stairway7

    Does it manifest itself with an inability to tackle at a young age? If so, maybe he’s right.

  • Reader783

    Can you point me to some plays to watch where he gives up? I’ll re-watch the game under your guidance and check to see if he quits on plays.

  • Michael Mosgrove

    first quarter

    5:30 to 5:25ish.
    burns gives up play.

    next play 5:11-5:06 left on game clock
    burns gives up play. balt + maybe 6 ish.

    third quarter.
    8:26- 8:22 burns taps wallace at the line. then they hug block and he cant get off the hug block in time

    6:10 ish end zone. should have had interception. doesnt really fight to keep it. got kinda mauled by wallace. play is 50/50.

    2:50 mitchell’s near interception burns first dpi. burns was getting mauled but he retaliates in front of the ref and gets busted. should have been offsetting penalties but it wasnt. play is 50/50.

    fourth quarter

    8:58 ish burns misses on block but watt wails him.

    8:37 second burns dpi. stupid call. not really burns fault. i understand first dpi. this was a bad call.

    7:20 burns got lucky for no call for face mask. no one left to cover left out route once he drops back with receiver.

    thats 8 total plays involving burns.
    the second dpi was horse crap. that drops the total to 7 plays.

    of the 7 plays, theres 2 50/50 plays. the 2 almost interceptions, one for burns one for mitchell.

    calls could have gone either way.

    that leaves 5 plays that show bad guesses, bad reaction or mental checkouts.

  • Matthew Marczi

    “I’m confident that I have brain damage.”
    “LOL I bet that’s why you miss tackles and blow coverages, you suck.”

  • Can I answer “Yes”? ;<)

  • Axel

    He certainly has something that prevents him from tackling and playing pass coverage, I hope they find a cure for it real soon…………..its a damn epidemic affecting the entire Steelers secondary

  • Axel

    According to several reports, Burns has never been treated for a concussion……… the NFL or in college………….like FATCAT716 said….”I never seen him getting physical on a tackle”………………

  • Axel

    Burns wouldn’t hit water if he fell out of a boat

  • 570toHero

    If I was able to suck myself off your mom wouldn’t have a job to feed your bitch ass who lives in her basement. Watch out how you talk to your provider SON.

  • ThatGuy

    When he knows nothing about the posters, sure it is. Soft nation.

  • WreckIess

    How much do you have to know about someone to realize that using potential brain damage to get off some cheap jokes makes them an ass?

  • Axel

    He just doesn’t love tackling……

  • SkoolHouseRoxx

    He suplexed Julian Edelman, so I ain’t mad.