Journey Bailey played football for years and, after one concussion too many, came to in a hospital bed with a subdural hematoma. In his searing essay, Bailey writes about a football culture that kept him from revealing his symptoms to coaches who downplayed the seriousness of concussions. The power of Bailey’s writing comes from his voice. He’s a football player talking to other football players. He’s not a doctor or a concerned parent or an aging former athlete. He’s a a guy who speaks the language of locker rooms and long school-bus rides to away games. “[T]he next time you’re out on that field pushing for that first down or tackling that running back and you start to see stars, feel dizzy, or develop a headache that won’t go away, don’t ignore the signs in order to stay in the game,” he urges his fellow players. “Think about having tubes shoved down your penis. Think about having dents in your head. Think about crying yourself to sleep while trying to decide whether or not to buy a shotgun off of Craigslist and blow your brains out.”
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