For years, former NFL lineman Ryan Miller didn’t talk about his concussions. He didn’t talk about the memory loss and seizures and migraines. He was quiet about his depression and despair. But recently, wanting to share his story in hopes of saving other players from suffering the same trauma, he spoke about his condition in an interview with the Denver Post.
Miller describes a few of his 10 documented concussions, his resentment toward the NFL, and post-concussion syndrome diagnosis. He also talks about connecting with former hockey player Scott Parker, who suffers from the same symptoms; using cooking as therapy; and his desire to help other football players avoid his fate. The entire story is worth a read, but here are a few choice quotes.
Describing the aftermath of a concussion he suffered in 2013:
“I remember waking up in a hospital bed with a splitting headache,” he recalled. “Everything bothered me — sound, light, movement. It’s sheer terror. All the lights were off. I freaked out. I woke up and I thought I was fighting for my life. … I was in complete disarray. I actually lunged forward and broke out of my straps, scared the nurse in the corner to death.
Symptoms of a concussion in 2015:
“I couldn’t even open my phone to dial 911,” he said. “… I had felt like you filled (my head) with hot sulfur and somebody had taken an anvil and was slamming my head against that anvil. All I wanted to do was die. Then I woke up two days later on the bathroom floor, no idea really what happened.”
On his memory loss:
“I would go to the grocery store to buy groceries and I’d come home and then I would go to the grocery store a half-hour later and buy the exact same things,” he said. “Really frustrating stuff and feeling alone in this.”
Why he chose not to speak publicly about his problems until now:
“I kept this very quiet for a long time, because as a football player, you’re trained to sweep things under the rug,” he said. “If you’re hurt, you ice something. You don’t speak up about stuff. You want to fight and fight and fight and fight until basically you can’t any longer. But when it comes to mental health and concussions, sometimes nobody will know but you, and it takes a tremendous amount of courage to stand up and say something about it.”
Miller called the league’s handling of head injuries “downright despicable,” and has pledged to donate his brain to the study of CTE when he dies.