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Former pro footballer experiencing memory loss–at 30 years old

Posted on December 28, 2011 in Brain Injury

As more and more former pro athletes find their on-field careers are having debilitating effects on their post-football lives decades down the road, we are now learning of players who are experiencing long-term symptoms of brain injury much more quickly. One documented case involves former pro tight end Benjamin Utecht, who is experiencing big gaps in his memory despite the fact that he’s only 30 years old.

Utecht’s career came to an abrupt end in 2009. While in training camp with the Cincinnati Bengals, he was knocked out cold in a blocking drill, and he never played again. Prior to that, Utecht had reached the pinnacle of his profession, playing in and winning a Super Bowl with the Indianapolis Colts. However, during his career, Utecht also suffered at least five concussions: two in college at Minnesota, two with the Colts and the final, fateful one with the Bengals.

At age 30, Utecht retired from the game he loved. He now pursues his other passion, professional singing, and tours the country performing concerts. He does concede, however, that had he been aware of the potential for long-term damage after sustaining so many head injuries, he might have retired from football even sooner.

His memory loss is frightening to him and his family: recently he has been forgetting things as recent as a business meeting that was cancelled the night before, and as long ago as a few years ago, when he sang and was a groomsman at a friend’s wedding–but now has no recollection of it happening.

The physical damage suffered by players is widespread, and those who are affected after their careers may be able to pursue claims against their ex-employers. Former players who have sustained repeated head injuries may wish to contact a personal injury and worker’s compensation attorney regarding their condition.

Source: USA Today, “Ex-NFL player Benjamin Utecht battling memory loss,” Erik Brady, Dec. 20, 2011