Concussions have become one of the most worrisome aspects for professional football, but what happened to Russell Allen, takes the brain injuries to another level. Allen, a linebacker for the Jacksonville Jaguars, got "his bell rung" in a Week 15 game last season, but believing it to be a relatively minor incident, he stayed in the game. It turns out that it wasn't just another knock on the head — Allen had a stroke. And now his career is over as a result.
In a profile from Sports Illustrated's MMQB site, Allen reveals the details of his injury — the events leading up to it, the immediate aftermath, and what it means for his future. The short version of it: A head-on collision with another player left a small part of Allen's brain "dead," and he will never play in the NFL again.
Here's how Allen describes the hit that caused a dime-sized "dead spot" to form on his cerebellum, the part of the brain that impacts basic motor function and coordination:
It was strange because it was so routine,” Allen says. “We hit, I got off the block, no big deal. I felt something flash — like they say when you get your bell rung. I didn’t lose consciousness. I walked back to the huddle and finished the drive.
No big deal. Allen would play the rest of the game, making tackles and risking (unbeknownst to him) further seriously damaging his brain. When he started to have double-vision in the second half, Allen asked a teammate on the sideline if his eye looked OK. The teammate, linebacker Paul Posluszny, said yes, and Allen went back on the field. That game on December 13, 2013 against the Buffalo Bills was Allen's last.