You may know Ben Utecht from his time with the Indianapolis Colts, especially during the 2006 season when his team won the Super Bowl. What you probably don’t know is that Utecht is an accomplished musician and dedicated family man. He is also suffering permanent effects of brain injury, thanks to a lifetime of hard hits and concussions.
In an inspiring (and tear-jerking) article in the Indianapolis Star, Utecht describes his current battles with memory loss, and his worry that he will one day no longer be able to recognize his three beautiful daughters. He is outspoken about the long-term effects of concussion. According to the Indy Star:
“It’s unlike any other injury in the sense that it truly affects the soul,” Utecht said. “Many doctors will tell you that the thing they fear the most is a neurological disorder or disease because it is the deterioration of the identity of a person.”
Any traumatic brain injury has the potential to cause multiple health issues, including difficulty thinking, stuttering, concentration problems, rollercoaster emotions, depression, memory loss, and physical disability. As a society, we expect serious problems after a car wreck or other accident, but football? Utecht puts it best:
“There is so much pressure. And there are some injuries that you can play through, absolutely. But not brain injuries.”
Utecht knows now that he should have stopped. Should not have played through it. Maybe the brain trauma would have been lessened. Maybe he wouldn’t be 33 and wondering what his life will be like 10 years from now, when his daughters are teenagers and need their dad the most.
Check out the article, it’s worth it. Just have a tissue nearby. (Indy Star article)