Linebacker Suffered a Stroke While Playing, and Now His Career Is Over


Football is a super-brutal game, on a level most of us can’t even conceive. Russell Allen, a linebacker for the Jags, revealed in an interview with MMQB today that he suffered a stroke in a Week 15 game last season, only to continue to play the game. His career is now over.

On what appeared to be a routine play, Allen had his “bell rung” in a head-on collision with Bills center Eric Wood. (He walked away shrugging his shoulders afterward.)

The hit, though, caused a small dead spot to form on Allen’s cerebellum, the part of your brain impacts motor function and coordination. This was a stroke. Allen thought he was just a little dazed—just a little double vision, no biggie—and he finished the game. It was only when he got home and came down with blistering headaches and sensitivity to light that he realized something was wrong.

A battery of tests confirmed that he’d suffered a stroke.

“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.”

Doctors told Allen it could have been much worse, especially since he went back on the field and risked other jarring collisions. As it was, he had trouble holding onto dishes, breaking several—a symptom consistent with a cerebellum injury.

“If I could go back in time I would do it differently,” Allen says. “Being in it and knowing how I felt in that moment, the game feels so serious. You’re thinking, I can’t come out, because what if someone else comes in and takes my job? Or they need me out there, and I can’t come out because I really want to win. But you can’t do that, and I learned that the hard way.”

These guys are nuts.

[Photo: © Phil Sears/USA Today Sports]