Friday, November 22, 2013

the last book I ever read (League of Denial: The NFL, Concussions and the Battle for Truth, excerpt six)

from League of Denial: The NFL, Concussions and the Battle for Truth by Mark Fainaru-Wada and Steve Fainaru:

In the tenth week of the 1992 season, the New York Jets traveled to Denver to play the Broncos. The Jets’ premier receiver at the time was Al Toon, an elegant contortionist whose jazzy surname perfectly fit his improvisational style. Toon stood 6-4 and once made the Olympic trials in the triple jump. He frequently hurled himself into space to make impossible catches, climbing above defenders who lacked his speed and balletic grace. Toon often paid for it: The Steelers’ Lloyd once knocked him out cold, then slapped the turf with his palm next to Toon’s splayed body as if he were counting him out.

In Denver, Toon caught a pass and was falling near the sideline, his head about a foot off the ground, when linebacker Michael Brooks flew over him, catching the back of his head with his elbow. It was not a particularly dramatic hit—Toon would later say that Brooks “grazed” him—but the effect was like “a cannonball hitting me on the back of the head,” he said. From that point forward, what Toon recalled about the play was gleaned largely from film and information he picked up from the Jets’ trainers.

As he lay on a training table in the dank basement of Mile High Stadium, Toon found that there were many gaps in his memory. They included: How old am I? Do I have kids? What am I doing here? What year is it?

“I had to go through a process of remembering who I was,” he told ESPN’s Greg Garber.

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