This is the next installment of my personal sports stories. For the time I accidentally struck a kid out, click here. For the time I got my first concussion, click here. This week’s story is from my senior year of high school football and actually ended up signaling the end of my football career, mainly because of when the concussion occurred, not so much some life-altering decision I made. Because let’s face it, unless I lost a limb, an injury wouldn’t have kept me from playing football.
There’s a little bit of a prequel to this story, if you will. For my senior season, we were breaking in a new head coach. The last one had gotten a coaching job for a D3 college football team and the situation he’d be in was too good to pass up for his family. The new guy the high school replaced him with was installing a completely different offense and one that was about as throwback as humanly possible. We didn’t line up with any wide receivers. It was like a super wishbone, basically. Well that was a problem for me. I was full-time varsity football at this point, but i wasn’t fast at all, so that ruled out my playing running back for the team and I was kind of stuck at tight end, which we often ran two of at a time, sometimes three. I was 5’9 165 pounds, so I wasn’t exactly Rob Gronkowski on the line.
However I did make one play against Worcester Academy that gave me hope that I could make it as an undersized tight end. Here is the play in question. I apologize for having to embed it as such, but Hudl doesn’t really offer the same video embedding abilities that Youtube does. But if you do click the link, you will see the smallest guy on the offensive line, one who has no business being on that line, dive at a future D1 player’s knees and taking him out to set up a 9-yard run. I kept doing that for the rest of the game, because let’s face it, there was no way in Hell I was going to block this guy one-on-one. He had at least 100 pounds on me and could probably bench press two of me. He wizened up to the fact that I was going to be diving at his legs every time and started burying my face in the dirt every play after that. But the fact that it worked once meant that it could work again, so any time I was in at tight end, I would dive at the defensive end’s knees.
Which brings me to my second concussion, for which this blog is about (takes me about 400 words to get to it, but whatever, I tell stories my way). We were playing Choate Rosemary Hall, alma mater of John F. Kennedy, with two games remaining in the regular season. We got blown out 59-0 as Choate’s head coach ran up the score on us at the end. But like my game at Taft a couple of years prior, I got knocked around quite a bit. This isn’t the play in question, but it damn well could have been. Watch number 75 in white in this video. I’m the kid he de-cleats at the end of the first play. The second play is me making an open-field tackle on the tight end, how did that get in there? I don’t have the play in question where my concussion occurred, but it basically looked exactly like the first video, where I dove at the kid’s knees. I was on the line playing tight end and we lined up in basically an identical formation and the defense had pretty much an identical front. Now if you watch that video and replace Worcester Academy with Choate, then you will notice I dive at #55’s legs and take him out. Well there was a slightly different line call for Choate. Instead of going straight up on me, they stunt inside, so it ended up being the outside linebacker, or #42’s role in the Worcester highlight, that came in on me. Well since I was diving at that angle, the outside backer’s knee ear-holed me and my head went ringing. Since it was such a clutter where I was, nobody saw that I got hit in the head by a kid’s knee and I didn’t lie on the ground, so nobody checked on me. I got up immediately but was subbed out for another tight end anyway. I played through the rest of the game and actually got a carry on a jet sweep late in the game, but a lineman came in unblocked and wrecked me for a two-yard loss. I got knocked around quite a bit in my football career.
I actually had no idea I had a concussion until the next day, which if you will remember from my last concussion story, was on a Sunday. I was getting my ass kicked in pre-calc and I was trying my damndest to do homework. This may have been because I was bad at pre-calc, but I could not process what I was reading. This was stuff we had been going over for a couple months now but it’s almost like the information I was reading never entered my brain. The next day, after talking with some friends at lunch about my concerns I may be concussed, one buddy noted that I had just forgotten something he literally had just said not even ten seconds prior. I checked myself in after that. Unfortunately, since I had checked myself in on Monday rather than Sunday, that would put me a day behind my concussion protocol routine, and therefore I would end up missing two games instead of the typical one by a single day. And as I mentioned before, we only had two games remaining in the regular season. So that concussion and my lack of realizing I had it ended up costing me my football career.
On a lighter note, I was kind of a rebel in the infirmary while I was being treated for the concussion. The rule for concussion recovery is you are supposed to lie in the hospital room all day, no sleeping, in pitch darkness and silence. Well, as you can probably guess, that was boring and I can only entertain myself with my thoughts for so long. I had snuck my phone in with me and streamed episodes of Arrested Development, keeping the volume low so as not to get caught by the nurses. I wasn’t very slick about it and I got caught watching the show on my phone and the nurses reprimanded me for it, but they didn’t take my phone. So naturally, I kept watching, but was a lot more careful this time not to get caught. Perhaps I have brain damage as a result, I don’t know, I can’t remember that far back.
And so ends another tale from my athletic career. I’m going to try and keep these up as much as I can on a weekly basis, but again, concussions add up and I haven’t played organized sports in three or four years. Let me know what you thought of the story in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10.