On Tuesday, Oct. 24, the EKU Americans for Disabilities Awareness committee (ADA) brought in former football player Tommy Shavers to speak to the students and athletes as a part of ADA awareness month. Shavers is raising awareness about CTE, share his experiences dealing with concussions both during and after his football career.
Shavers started off his speech by giving background of his playing days in college, sharing examples on how times have changed in the last 20 years.
Shavers said when he was playing at the University of Central Florida, he suffered a concussion and when his coach was asked about his concussion, he responded with, “He has a concussion but that’s the least of our injuries.”
While the statement might be extremely appalling to hear in 2017, concussions were not considered a big deal in 1998, Shavers said. He would go on to suffered three more concussions in a four-week span.
Instead of his coach ruling him out for the next week’s game, he bumped Shavers down to third-string free safety, assuming the two guys in front of him would not get injured and he would not have to play. Sure enough, both players went down, and Shavers suffered his second concussion while replacing the other safties.
Two weeks later, they played football powerhouse Alabama. While in the game, Shavers took a hit, and knew he had a concussion instantly.
Shavers said he was trying to run off the field and in his dazed state, the field tilted, and he couldn’t make it off the field.
UCF sent in his back up, but his back up lost his contact on the field. Before Shavers could communicate with the coaching staff to tell them he had suffered from a concussion, he was thrown back into the game. Understanding that Shavers could not fully exert himself, Alabama continued to run plays right at Shavers.
After the game, Shavers said he couldn’t even respond to reporters. Because of his continual concussions, Shavers said he could not pursue a career in the National Football League.
Shavers would then go on to tell us the side effects he experienced after his career. Some of them include amnesia, forgetfulness, jumbled words, and cognitive process impairment. Shavers said, “My life was like 50 First Dates, I had to live my life with amnesia every day.”
Shavers would then go on to talk about his inspirational recovery story, even though many people told him things would get worse, he said he lived by the motto ‘If it’s been done before, I can do it too. If it hasn’t, I will be the first.’.
Shavers also told us he has teamed up to help other with these side effects such as feeding the brain, which means you must do what your brain wants. Today Shavers is now a coach, a husband, and a father, he also is now doing better than average with his intelligence.
Shavers was asked where he thought the game would end up going forward and if he thought we would ever get the perfect compromise of protecting players without taking too much away from football.
He said “Does anybody think about the injuries and lives lost while discovering the way to perfect the airplane? No, we don’t, so I think we will look back on this time we’re in right now as a time of discovery.”
It’s clear Shavers wants to see the game thriving, he just wants the players to not have to go through what he went through for so many years.