I got some positive reviews the last time I did this, so I’m going to try and make it a weekly thing on Mondays, since that is typically the day I have been taking off. This one is going to come from my football career.
So my sophomore year of high school was up and down. I won the starting quarterback job for the JV football team. I played football at a private boarding school called Northfield Mount Hermon (NMH, for short). If you’ve noticed the tagline to my blog, it reads “the inner machinations of the mind of a special teamer on a winless high school football program.” In my four years of high school football, the varsity team had two winless seasons (my freshman and senior seasons). This season the varsity team won three games but we didn’t have that winning mentality yet in this scrimmage against Taft, a school in Connecticut.
We had a lot of injuries at linebacker going into this game, so since I was an in-the-box safety for the JV team, that made me one of the more qualified guys to sub in at middle linebacker. Here’s me from that season.
That just screams “middle linebacker” doesn’t it? I was playing in the middle of the defense at 5’9 145 pounds. Also, NMH was doing color rush before color rush was cool. But anyways, there was a play in the second quarter of the scrimmage in particular that stands out to me. The Taft offense was around their own 40 yard-line. They threw a quick screen to one of their receivers and I had come in unblocked. I had him all lined up and ready to make the tackle. He cuts inside and I turn in to try and wrap up. Only when I turned in, there was another receiver, lowering his shoulder into my head to block me. The hit connected and I blacked out for a moment, literally seeing stars. I know that’s a cliched term, but I shit you not, I saw stars. My legs went up and I hit the ground hard. That block sprung the screen and he ended up scoring a touchdown on the play. As I’m lying on the ground, I heard the guy who blocked me say “did you see that hit I just made?!” Not, “yay! Touchdown!” but he was looking for congratulations for his hit. My head was hurting like Hell but that wasn’t my thought process as I got up and slowly trotted to the sideline. I just thought to myself “what a d-bag.” As I made it to the sideline, many coaches and teammates came up to me and asked if I was okay. I told them “yeah, but I might need to sit out a couple of plays so my head clears up.” Concussions weren’t the major issue they are now, though they were starting to become as such around this time. I probably had a concussion at this point, but I was never one to tell someone I had an injury unless I physically could not move without being in severe pain, so I got back in there a couple of series later. I even completed my first pass when it was the JV segment of the scrimmage while I was probably nursing a concussion.
It was also during that JV part of the scrimmage where I once again took a huge hit. I was playing outside linebacker for the JV defense and Taft ran the ball to the outside. I was tracking the runner and getting ready to make a play, when all of a sudden I was on my back and I couldn’t breathe. I had again received a blindside block from a receiver I didn’t see and the game had to stop as I felt like I had a plastic bag covering my mouth. A coach later said to me he thought I had broken my collarbone on this play from how motionless I lied on the ground. Turns out I just had the wind knocked out of me. Thank God, because I was worried I was dying after that hit for a moment. I was done for the game, though, as that was two injury scares in one day for me.
My high school’s conference style was different, as we didn’t play our games on Friday nights, but on Saturday afternoons, so I often missed a lot of college football during my high school career. So later that night I was back in my dorm making up for lost time by watching a college football game, it was USC vs Colorado, I believe. I know Matt Barkley was quarterbacking USC at the time. I do remember watching him drop a dime for a touchdown to Robert Woods in this game. One of my coaches stopped by and watched the game with me and he asked me how I was feeling after the hits I took. I casually mentioned that I had a headache but other than that I was good. His eyes got wide that I still had a headache and immediately drove me to the health center, where I was diagnosed with a concussion. I was admitted overnight and ended up missing the next two weeks with that concussion. I wouldn’t consider it to be too bad of one, I just had a bad headache for about a week. I didn’t have any sensitivity to light, any memory loss or any struggles with normal functions such as processing information. But nevertheless I was concussed and it was the first time I ever had to miss games due to injury in my athletic career. Closest I had come was a pulled muscle during my pop warner days where I had to miss a practice. It was hard to watch my team from the sidelines but I was able to come back fully healthy and helped my varsity team to three victories. JV as a quarterback, not so much. I was abysmal as a quarterback.
So that’s the story of my first concussion, I wish I had the footage of those hits I took, but I don’t. But take my word for it, I got ROCKED on those hits. For my other football stories, I’ll try and get footage.