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Ryan Miller, former Colorado Buffaloes lineman, opens up about head trauma

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Miller had the strength to speak about a deeply personal issue.

Denver Broncos v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Ryan Miller was one of the best offensive lineman to ever play for the Colorado Buffaloes. Miller’s NFL career, however, was cut short by injuries, specifically head injuries. In an interview with the Denver Post, Miller opened up about his injuries and the crippling effects of chronic head trauma.

Miller, a former five-star prospect from Columbine High School in Littleton, was drafted in the 5th round of the 2012 NFL Draft and played four seasons in the NFL, including stints with the Cleveland Browns and Denver Broncos. He was forced to retire because he suffered from post-concussion syndrome (PCS) as a result of his many serious concussions.

From the interview:

Miller said he’s had 10 concussions documented in his medical record. But there could have been many more that went undocumented and countless others that he didn’t even know were concussions. He believes they all compounded, as his susceptibility increased and his body’s tolerance of the symptoms plummeted.

Miller’s head trauma began in 2013 when he was knocked unconscious and had to be taken by an ambulance from the Browns’ practice field. That’s when he started feeling physical symptoms such as memory loss and seizures, and mental symptoms such as depression and disarray.

Miller also spoke about mental health and the stigma that often deters players from seeking treatment. When these mental symptoms of head trauma are ignored or left untreated, tragedy is all too familiar.

From the interview:

“I kept this very quiet for a long time, because as a football player, you’re trained to sweep things under the rug,” he said. “If you’re hurt, you ice something. You don’t speak up about stuff. You want to fight and fight and fight and fight until basically you can’t any longer. But when it comes to mental health and concussions, sometimes nobody will know but you, and it takes a tremendous amount of courage to stand up and say something about it.”

Miller pledged to donate his brain to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) research. CTE is an often fatal result of brain trauma that football players and other contact sport athletes suffer from. Even though the link between concussion and CTE is proven, the NFL has long been criticized for its ignorance and even malfeasance.

Miller’s strength to bring about awareness on the issue of concussions and mental health should be commended. If the NFL is going to improve their concussion treatment, which Miller called “despicable,” more players like him will need to come out the way he has.