Ben Utecht, the former tight end for the Indianapolis Colts and Cincinnati Bengals from 2005-2009, has come out with a book titled “Counting the Days While My Mind Slips Away.” According to an Associated Press news report, Utecht suffered five major concussions in his college and professional career. Now, he finds himself battling long-term and short-term memory loss. The book is Utecht’s attempt to document the memories he still has before they slip away before his mind’s eye. He calls the book “a keepsake,” a love letter to his family, especially something for his daughters to hold on to and cherish.
Included in the book are the heartbreaking details of how the Bengals mishandled his last NFL concussion in 2009 initially blocking his attempts to get a second opinion and not giving him a workout recovery plan to follow. Utecht has now become a public speaker and an advocate for concussion awareness. He also testified before Congress on the subject in 2014. During the hearing, he told the story of how he couldn’t remember a friend’s wedding even though he was a groomsman and sang in the wedding.
Concussions and CTE
What Utecht and many other football players have suffered and continue to suffer is a condition known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy or CTE, a progressive degenerative disease, which affects the brains of those who have suffered repeated concussions and traumatic brain injuries such as athletes who participate in contact sports, members of the military and others.
The symptoms of CTE can be debilitating and have life-changing consequences for both the individual and his family. Some of the common symptoms include memory loss, difficulty controlling impulsive or erratic behavior, impaired judgment, aggression, depression and a gradual onset of dementia. CTE has been diagnosed in many notable cases that received a lot of media attention including the suicide deaths of NFL player Junior Seau and professional wrestler Chris Benoit, who killed himself after murdering his wife and son.
Too Many Tragedies to Ignore
It’s time all student and professional sports organizations to start paying attention to concussions. Until not too long ago concussions were dismissed as “mild” traumatic brain injuries. Today, we know that they need prompt medical attention and should not be ignored. Doing so would amount to negligence. Our traumatic brain injury attorneys stand in solidarity with all CTE victims and their families. We hope their plight changes the future of how these injuries are viewed and treated in professional sports as well as student athletic programs.