Imagine winning a football championship and then wondering if you'll always remember it.
Ben Utecht won a Super Bowl with the Indianapolis Colts and now worries if his life is about to unravel because of memory loss at just 30 years old. Utecht, a father of three who married his college sweetheart, claims he has started suffering episodes of memory loss and thinks it might be a direct result of his NFL career.
Utecht played in only four seasons -- three with the Colts, one with the Cincinnati Bengals. He finished his career with 87 receptions and three touchdowns in 51 games. Injuries kept Utecht from playing in two of his six professional seasons. He suffered five concussions over his career -- two in college, two with the Colts, and one with the Bengals, which ended his career.
The undrafted University of Minnesota product told the USA Today he's very concerned about his health.
"Will I experience early-onset dementia in my 50s? Will I experience more issues with amnesia or headaches or behavioral changes? All of these things are consequences of brain injury. I think now that I'm aware of them -- especially now that I'm the father of three beautiful little girls -- it's definitely in my heart and on my mind. I'd be lying to you if I said it wasn't."
The USA Today listed two troubling examples of Utecht's memory loss. One day last summer, he told his wife that he couldn't remember why he didn't attend a close friend's wedding years earlier. His wife thought he was joking, but after friends showed wedding photos of him at the event, she knew something wasn't right.
Another time, Utecht put bagels and orange juice out for a business meeting, but nobody showed up to the couple's Maryland home. The meeting had been canceled the night before, but Utecht had forgotten.
Utecht says he might have stepped away from the NFL sooner, had he known what he knows now. "It's easy to say that," he told the USA Today. "Would I have said that if I was still playing? I can't tell you that. But from my shoes now, if someone had told me, 'Hey, once you've had three, your chances of more (concussions) go up exponentially,' you've got to believe I would have had a serious conversation.
"A concussion is not like a shoulder injury or a knee injury. Those are things that heal. This is your personality. It's your character. It's your soul."
Utecht's wife, Karyn Stordahl, his college sweetheart and a former Miss Minnesota, does her best not to think about her husband's possible memory loss.
"I choose not to think about it on a daily basis," Karyn told USA Today. "My father always tells me, 'Worry is like a rocking chair -- it keeps you busy but it doesn't get you anywhere.'"
While the former Colts player continues to worry about his medical future, he's found work in his other passion of music. Utecht is singing classical crossover as lead male vocalist for pianist Jim Brickman on his 32-city 'A Christmas Celebration' tour. Growing up and playing football, Utecht always had a passion for singing.
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