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NFL

Interview: Ex-NFL TE & Super Bowl Champ Ben Utecht on New Book, Concussions & More

The Indianapolis Colts' 2006 Super Bowl winning season was one of the first years I actually got into football and sports in general (I was about 9 years old that year), so it this definitely gave me a great taste for it. 

Throughout the season, I definitely remember Colts tight end Ben Utecht, who was a big part of the team during their championship season.

Utecht played with the Colts from 2004-07, and then with the Cincinnati Bengals from 2008-09 during his NFL career. However, he dealt many injuries, particularly concussions, which resulted in the end to his career.

In late 2011, Utecht was already experiencing memory loss, despite being only 30 years old. He has had five known concussions in his career, but who knows how many he has truly suffered. 

With that, Utecht has turned to music to cope with his brain injuries. He released an inspirational music album back in 2009, and famously made the "You Will Always Be My Girls" single in 2014 to his wife and daughters, as he fears one day he may not know them due to his injuries.

This has led to Utecht publishing his new, riveting memoir that released on August 23rd, "Counting the Days While My Mind Slips Away: A Love Letter to My Family." 

Per the press release, "Terrified his wife and four daughters would someday be living with a man who is a mere shell of his former self, Utecht has written this book for his family. This is his story. From his early days on the field to his post-NFL life as a leading advocate for brain health. Frank, heartening and inspiring, COUNTING THE DAYS WHILE MY MIND SLIPS AWAY is a must read of the 2016 NFL season."

Thanks to my good friend Adam Rifenberick of Press Box Publicity, I was fortunate to receive a copy of this book just recently. Along with that, I was also able to interview Ben about his book, his NFL career, his future endeavors, the league and football itself, and more. 

What made you decide to write this book?

I wanted to give my family a written account of my athletic story and also be a voice for the many dealing with the consequences caused by concussion.

What can readers expect from your memoir?

Readers can expect an authentic vulnerable story about what players go through at the highest level one facing injury many times especially concussions. They can also expect to read a story about faith family and how memory loss helped me value the moments in my life more than ever, giving me new purpose.

What message do you plan to send?

One important message in the book is that I am pro brain and pro game. Also if you recognize how important your mind and memories are to your identity then you will begin to value every moment more which will give you new purpose.

What was it like for you to win the Public Leadership In Neurology Award?

It was an honor to receive this award from the most prestigious neurology group in the world because it made me realize how important raising money for brain research truly is.

If you could go back in time knowing about the brain trauma, would you still play in the NFL?

I would still play because I believe the game of football provides priceless life lessons that I needed in my own life. However knowing what I know today about concussions would have changed the way that I played the game and given me more wisdom on how to handle the concussions that I faced.

How much has music been a part of your life?

Music has always been an equal passion to sports in my life and it is a unique tool that allows me to emotionally connect with people in ways that sports could not.

What are your future endeavors?

Over the last year I have focused more on my national speaking career. I am a corporate speaker who brings you into the huddle of one of the most successful NFL offenses of all time and teaches you the disciplines that created a world class culture of championship leaders. Music will always play an adjacent role in my life as a professional speaker and singer.

How do you feel about the safety of the game of football right now?

If we can create a culture and American sports the places the brain is the most important part of the athlete then I believe all decisions will follow the wisdom of that culture.

What is one thing you'd like to say for the readers?

I'm excited for you to take an emotional journey with me through faith family and football. I hope my story connects you to the importance of your memories which will bring more value and purpose to your life. Thank you for all of your support.

Once again, thanks to Adam for giving me this opportunity and Ben for taking his time to answer my questions. I hope you guys enjoyed the interview. Make sure to buy a copy of his new book here

-- Josh Dhani

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