While I’m on my Debbie Downer run, make sure you read this piece about Chris Borland, who just retired at age 24 over health concerns. In particular, this part:
Borland began at Wisconsin as a wedge buster on kickoffs, a task he compared to “bowling, but it’s people doing it.” After blowing up a wedge against Wofford, he couldn’t remember the rest of the game, including his own blocked punt, which led to a touchdown. That night, unable to eat, his head pounding, Borland had a teammate wake him up every few hours, fearing he’d lapse into a coma. He never told the coaches or trainers. That Monday, he was named co-Big Ten special-teams player of the week. “That’s one of those things where, when you step away from the game and you look at it, it’s like, ‘Oh my god,’ you know?” Borland says. “But it makes sense to you when you’re 18 and you’ve dedicated your life to it and the most important thing to you is to get a good grade on special teams.”
Near the end of his freshman year, Borland discovered Toradol, the controversial painkiller used widely in college and the pros. “It was life-changing,” he told the BU researchers, chuckling, when they took his medical history. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration warns that Toradol should be used sparingly, for severe acute pain. Borland, who had shoulder surgery three times while at Wisconsin, said he would sometimes use the drug every other game.
Some of Borland’s teammates were worse off, and that concerned him more. Taylor, his close friend, was also one of the best linebackers in the nation, twice all-conference, a future pro. But it became harder and harder for Taylor to stay on the field. In 2011, he tore his meniscus on a blitz against Minnesota. The Monday after the game, he had knee surgery to remove half of it.
The next Saturday, with Wisconsin fighting for the Big Ten title, Taylor played against Illinois. “I remember that morning I was thinking, ‘This is f—ing stupid. What am I doing?’ ” he recalls. “They shot Toradol in my ass. And I remember covering up my knee with bandages, just so I couldn’t see blood. The first half was shaky for me. If you watch the game film, it’s like, ‘This dude should not be playing football.’ ”
Taylor says no one tried to stop him. “I think it was mostly my fault,” he says. “I was waiting for them to say, ‘Hey, you’re out of here. This is kind of sad. And not smart.’ But I was kind of in a position to dictate. I guess the coaches had trust in me.” He thinks he took another shot of Toradol at halftime.
Their coach? Bret “We have to protect student athletes to extremes we never thought of before” Bielema.
The sanctimonious horse crap slays me every time. So does the willful blindness.
Later, as the evening wound down, we asked Alvarez about Borland. He sounded slightly defensive. “It was never an indictment against football,” he said. “He just chose not to play, and I respect that decision. But there was never an indictment of football.”