Ex-NFL Star to Pen Concussion Memoir

Ben Utecht - H 2015
AP Images

Ben Utecht - H 2015

Former NFL player Ben Utecht is penning his memoir, Counting the Days Until My Mind Slips Away: A Love Letter to My Family, Simon & Schuster imprint Howard Books announced on Wednesday.

The faith-based imprint acquired North American publishing rights. Exact terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Utecht's representative said he received a “substantial six-figure advance.” No publication date was announced. 

Utecht was on the Indianapolis Colts' Super Bowl XLI winning team and also played for the Cincinnati Bengals. He retired after receiving his fifth documented concussion, which resulted in memory loss, which could be symptomatic of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a condition that has been related to the suicides of NFL players. Utecht has actively spoken out about brain health, and was recently awarded the Minnesota Brain Injury's Alliance Ambassador Award.

Inspired by a letter Utecht wrote to his wife and four daughters as he worried about how his declining health would impact them, Counting the Days will contain his reflections about the importance of family and faith in the face of declining neural functioning.  

“We are thrilled for the opportunity to work with Ben and bring his story to fans, particularly in light of the growing controversy surrounding CTE in professional football players,” said Jonathan Merkh, vice president and publisher of Howard Books, in a press release. “His commitment to his family and faith make him an excellent role model, and we are happy to have him as part of the Howard roster of authors.”

Hollywood has taken an interest in football-related concussions and the ensuing health concerns. The fourth episode of the new HBO-Dwayne Johnson comedy Ballers saw a retired football player (Johnson) struggling with memory loss and other CTE symptoms. Mark Fainaru-Wada and Steve Fainaru's 2013 book, League of Denial, delved into NFL-related brain injuries and evolved into a PBS documentary of the same name. A 2009 article in GQ (“Game Brain) by Jeanne Marie Laskas inspired 2015's Concussion, a drama starring Will Smith and Alec Baldwin that points fingers at the debilitating head injuries incurred by NFL-players.

Steve Ross at Abrams Artists Agency represented Utecht on the book. Mark Tabb will co-write. Merkh acquired the project for Simon and Schuster’s Howard Books.