World of Sport

NFL star retiring after suffering shocking on-field stroke

World of Sport

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If you were armed with the knowledge that an NFL player suffered a stroke on the field because of a hit, you'd figure it would be apparent what happened when you saw the replay.

Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Russell Allen suffered a stroke on the field and is now retiring as a result. And the most frightening part is the hit in question looks like any other NFL play.

If a hit caused a dead spot on an NFL player's brain, as it did with Allen, it should be clear, right? The kind of hit that looked like it resulted in a bad concussion but turned out to be much worse.

That's not the case with Allen. He never even paused to go down to a knee or had any reaction really.

Allen hit center Eric Wood, who was trying to block him, and said he felt "something flash" after hitting him. He didn't lose consciousness and went back to the huddle. If you look at the replay of the game, there's nothing about that play that stands out as unusual.

That's the scariest part of Allen's story. It wasn't one big hit. Even after multiple viewings, it seems like a normal play.

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Allen said he started seeing double on the sideline in the second half, but went back in and finished the game. When headaches persisted on Monday, he informed the team what happened.

An MRI showed that he had a stroke - small part of his cerebellum was inactive. Three neurosurgeons confirmed the injury, the type of stroke that has never happened to a sports star. It was the kind of injury seen in a small percentage of high-speed car crash.

And here's the quote from Allen that continues to haunt many, as it rides the fine line of promoting safety and awareness:

"If I could go back in time I would do it differently,” Allen says. "Being in it and knowing how I felt in that moment, the game feels so serious.

"You’re thinking, I can’t come out, because what if someone else comes in and takes my job? Or they need me out there, and I can’t come out because I really want to win. But you can’t do that, and I learned that the hard way.”

No sport wants players to lie about head injuries, but this type of attitude will be hard to eliminate.

The 27-year-old is now done with professional sport and has been released by the Jaguars because of a "failed physical."

It's a sad and scary story, and hopefully Allen has a normal life as a father and husband. About the only good news is the injury wasn't worse.

Frank Schwab

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