54-year-old ex-professional football player
Circa 1984 – Canadian Football League: One of many concussion experiences
Player (talking to self):
Where am I?
Oh yeah, we’re in Calgary.
Oh yeah. Got knocked out.
I am still laying flat on my back. Wow.
I can see the trainer and doctor coming towards me. The game has stopped. TV timeout. Hey, at least I get some air time.
They’re here. First, they check to see if I have sensation in my extremities (feet and hands).
I check out. NOTE TO SELF—Thank God!
Doctor: OK. We are going to have to ask you a couple of questions to see if you’re alright [translation: to see if you can go back to play]. We believe you may have suffered a concussion.
Player: Well, whatever. I did get knocked out but I am okay now. I am good to go.
Doctor: I still need to ask you a few questions.
Player (talking to self): I need to answer these questions, even if I stretch the truth… I NEED to get back into the game.
Doctor: Where are we?
Player: McMahon Stadium. Calgary.
Doctor: Who are we playing?
Player: You kiddin’? If we’re in Calgary, we’re playing the Stampeders.
Doctor: What is the score?
Player: We are losing 14-7.
Doctor: What is the time in the game?
Player: Move your fat ass so I can see the score clock.
Doctor: No, without looking?
Player: OK, somewhere in the second quarter.
Doctor: What happened?
Player: I hit my head on the turf, while tackling the quarterback.
Doctor: You seem okay, but let’s take it slow. We’ll walk back to the sideline, and see how things go over the next few minutes.
Player Commentary: The first thing I do when I get back to the sideline (bench) is hide. I need to follow the old adage: “Out of sight, out if mind.” I take a knee at the end of the bench, where the big boys (O lineman) hang out, as they provide the best cover. They never look over here.
The game is back on.
[Looks around] Hey, how did we get onto the field? I don’t even remember entering the stadium. I feel empty … and, truth be told, frightened. I have no idea how we’re going to leave the stadium.
(After the Game) As it turns out I had a great game. But I did not remember anything after the concussion.
Thank God for game film.
Background: Back in the day, a man would return to the field after being knocked out. That was the sign of areal ball player. As a pro, you always went back. Just grab some smelling salts… and off you go! Going back into the game was a personal victory. You could always tell that story in the locker room or the bar. Heck, lots of players didn’t remember anything about the game until they saw the game film.
You just grabbed your huevos and got back out there. It was a different era of sport. Real sports. When a man was a man.
Unfortunately, today there are still times we cannot remember that last play in our daily lives. With no cameras we rely on someone else—a friend, a family member, and maybe a wife (usually a second or third) to tell us about it.
As players, we lived our dreams, but now some of us live our nightmares—nightmares of anger, alcohol and/or substance abuse, depression, memory loss, spousal abuse (both ways), dramatically reduced life expectancy, and so on.
As a Canadian I lived my dream, but with it came a cost. Any regrets? HELL, NO.