Editor’s Note: In this piece written for Players’ Tribune, former UConn football star Casey Cochran ’15 (CLAS) — currently a graduate student in the Neag School’s sport management master’s degree program — shares, in his own words, the story of enduring his 13th concussion, an injury that ultimately prompted him to end his ambition of playing professional football. Today, Cochran is working to advocate for greater awareness about head trauma and concussions in sports.
The only word I know to describe the first few moments after a concussion is limbo — there are a few moments between the world that you were just a part of and your new brain-injured reality. When I regained consciousness, I knew I was on the ground. My head was seized with tremendous pressure, and that same awful, familiar depression from previous head injuries came over me — like a dark, heavy blanket, swallowing me up.
I tried to fight it: Just get up. Get the hell up!
I opened my eyes. My distorted vision quickly came back to focus, and I saw high-powered stadium lights shining on me.
They asked question after question. I responded to most of them with, “Yeah, yeah, I’m fine.” But I knew immediately that I was not. I knew I had just played the last snap of my career.
I realized I was at the game. The other team was celebrating like maniacs so I knew that my pass had fallen incomplete. Hands helped me up, and some of my teammates surrounded me out of concern. As I began to jog off the field, I turned to my teammate and asked what happened. Through his facemask, I could see a confused look. I then realized that my words weren’t coming out in English. After a second or two of unintelligible blabber, I was able to say, “What happened?”
“It was incomplete. You alright?” he responded.
My vision blurred again. Once I got to the sideline and I was met by teammates and doctors. They asked question after question. I responded to most of them with, “Yeah, yeah, I’m fine.” But I knew immediately that I was not. I knew I had just played the last snap of my career.
Read Casey Cochran’s full story on the Players’ Tribune site here. He also has made appearances to discuss life after concussions in college sports on Fox 61’s Morning Show, at SXSW, and continues to do so in other venues nationwide. Listen in here to Cochran discuss this story with HAN Network’s Nutmeg Sports.