Facing Uncertain Future, Former NFL Player Tells His Story

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Ben Utecht has been on a bit of a crusade since he left football to make people aware of the dangers of head injuries.

“For the fits time in my life, my brain became a priority,” Utecht said. “And the reason why it became a priority is because at 29 years old I started to have memory problems.”

He’s also an established singer, dedicating a song to his wife and daughters so that they would remember him as he is.

Now he’s promoting a new book, one that chronicles his life and the pitfalls of a life ravaged with concussions.

“The book has really come out of my unfortunate leaving the NFL due to concussions. I wrote that song, that vulnerable song for my wife and daughters, regarding memory loss and fears of the future,” Utecht said.

“Really wrote a story designed to emotionally connect people to how important their memories are. It’s really kind of a legacy story for me to share with my family.”

Utecht understands what this world of living with concussions is about after an accomplished college and NFL career.

“The book really is a story of and the journey of my athletic career from Hastings High School to the NFL. All the injuries that I had to overcome and especially the concussions,” he said. “And the gist of it, the overarching message is that it took losing some of my memories to really realize how important my mind is to my identity.”

He understands that life with past concussions is about understanding what can happen, and that can be a scary place.

“Sitting across the table from one of my best friends and forgetting being in his wedding, being a singer in his wedding and a groomsmen,” Utecht said. “That’s one example of a couple handfuls like that. So at 35 now, I do think into the future of what is that going to look like.”

Because he wants his life to be a testament to what can be and he hopes the NFL is now on the right track to be proactive in preventive care.

“I think the last two seasons have been really good in regards to what the NFL is doing for concussions,” Utecht said. “The new protocols that are in place, the neuro specialist on the sidelines, the neuro specialist in the booth who can stop a play at any time and remove a player suspected of a concussion, these are the things I wish I had in place when I was playing.”

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