Haloti Ngata wanted to be sure he had a clean bill of health before returning for a 12th NFL season.
The 33-year-old defensive tackle went to a neurologist for a brain scan before joining his Lions teammates for the offseason training program. Ngata, who will be in his third season with the Lions after spending nine years in Baltimore, told reporters Thursday he went through a battery of brain testing at the CORE Institute in Brighton, Mich., over a two-week period.
“I went and talked to a neurologist, wanted to make sure my head was good, all that,” Ngata explained, via the Detroit News. “He said everything was pretty good, really good actually. I was like, ‘All right, I’m going to keep on playing.’ My wife was like, ‘I guess so.’
“The brain is good,” he added. “That’s what they said. The brain is good to go, keep on hitting.”
The Ravens selected the 330-pound defensive lineman with the 12th overall pick in the 2006 NFL Draft. He was selected to the Pro Bowl every year from 2009-13 and helped the Ravens win Super Bowl XLVII.
Ngata missed three games last season because of a shoulder injury, but it was his long-term mental health that concerned him.
“With all the things that going on with brain stuff throughout the league, you definitely keep an eye on it,” Ngata said. “You hear that stuff and you don’t want to have problems when you’re older. I want to be able to raise my kids and be able to play with them when they’re older and still be able to beat them in wrestling matches and stuff when they’re teenagers.
“I used my head a lot more when I was younger, but I think I was just being young,” he added. “Then you learn how to use your hands better, position yourself better and just understanding pad level, stuff like that. For me, it was just a process, becoming better with my hands and a better technician.”