Russell Allen is only 27 years old and has been forced to retire from the NFL. He was surprisingly released by the Jaguars on April 17th after a relatively good season. Allen made a statement today announcing his retirement and explaining the reason why he was released by his former team. The 2009 undrafted free agent out of San Diego State divulged to the public that not only did he suffer a concussion after colliding with Bills center Eric Wood on December 15th, but suffered a stroke in the middle of the game. Allen did not notify the training staff at the time, only asking teammate and fellow linebacker Paul Pusluszny if his eye looked okay. The following Monday morning after the 27-20 loss, Allen notified the team about the play and having double vision – they ordered an MRI.
Less than 24 hours later, Allen received a call from the Jaguars’ team doctor who ordered him to meet at the emergency room. He was informed that he suffered a stroke – Russell was admitted to the hospital and spent three days there undergoing tests.
“It was strange because [the hit on Wood] was so routine,” Allen said. “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.”
Allen also revealed that he now has a ‘dead spot’ on his cerebellum around the size of a dime and is still suffering concussion related symptoms. He will be on blood-thinning medication (likely Coumadin) for his entire life. Allen’s personal physician contacted the Jaguars and strongly urged Allen and the team that he should step away from football permanently.
“Guys talk about it all the time,” Allen says. “‘I’m all right—I just got my bell rung.’ I’ve had, maybe 10 times in my career, when for a second I felt woozy after a hit. And what I’ve learned from this is that it’s not something to be overlooked. If it feels like something’s wrong, something’s wrong. I want someone to know my experience, so they can know when they experience something similar.”
Russell Allen is fortunate to have not suffered a worse injury. As fans, we’ve seen our share of disturbing, violent football injuries – but arguably the more frightening ones go unnoticed. I applaud Russell for valuing the remainder of his life over a few more years in the NFL. He put his health in front of his career, which more players should do. Head related injuries are becoming like sprained ankles in football, and more action needs to take place. I don’t want the NFL to become ‘flag football’, nobody does. However, investing in newer and more protective equipment, especially helmets could save careers. I hope Russell can use his story as a platform for other players still in the league. Do not conceal head injuries from your team – it will only hurt you in the long run. Junior Seau (God rest his soul) is a prime example of what concussion related injuries can push a man to do.