November 29, 2017 09:25 PM
(ABC 6 News) - He’s suffered many blows to the head, some leading to serious concussions.
But former NFL player, Ben Utecht, is now optimistic about the progress being made preventing brain injuries in sports.
"Playing one of the roughest sports in the world definitely lends itself to injury,” said Utecht.
The Rochester-native is known for being outspoken about brain injuries in football.
The former Colts and Bengal’s Tight End was diagnosed with 5 concussions in his career. “The fifth happened in 2009, which lead to retiring,” said Utecht.
Now, the father of four fights for his memory with help from a brain training program. “Being a family man, my memories have become the most important part of my identity.”
That’s why he isn't bitter about the hit in practice that took him out of the NFL at only 28.”It was a blessing in disguise.”
With athletes like Utecht bringing the issue to light and more studies being done, there is progress being made in concussion prevention.
“The non-biased neuro specialists on the sidelines,” said Utecht. “The amount of education and awareness has increased dramatically.”
Broc Threinen has been coaching high school football since 2001. He is working to make sure hard hits aren't taken to the head.
Kasson-Mantorville High School implemented the “Heads up Football” program four years ago.
“Getting your head out of the tackle, both blocking and tackling,” said Threinen.
It’s not just form, helmet technology is constantly evolving.
Without changing the integrity and basics of the game … “There's little changes each year that they have done to make an unnecessary hit illegal,” said Threinen.
Utecht's biggest advice to young athletes who think they are suffering from any sort of head trauma: “Tell somebody and to remove yourself from play so you can heal properly.”
Updated: November 29, 2017 09:25 PM
Created: November 29, 2017 07:41 PM
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