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On-field injuries linger for former Colt Utecht

Posted at 11:14 PM, Sep 21, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-21 23:14:11-04

Many Colts players walk off the field with more than a lifetime of memories – but holding onto them is getting harder and harder for one former teammate.

After suffering five concussions during his football career, former Colts wide receiver and Super Bowl champion Ben Utecht says he has long term memory problems.

Utecht says he can't remember signing at one of his best friend's weddings. He can't even remember going to it.

"My message is all about emotionally connecting to how important your mind and memories are to the makeup of who you are," Utecht said.

Utecht now serves as the national spokesman for the American Academy of Neurology. He says he's concerned about the effects of brain injuries he and other former football players suffered on the field.

"I step back and I think, man, 87 of 91 autopsied former NFL brains have been diagnosed with this brain disease," he said. "Is it a reason why I have some of these long term memory gaps?"

Utecht is desperately looking for answers, not only for himself, but for his wife and four young girls, ages 3 months to 6 years.

He's recently been going through cognitive rehabilitation to train his brain to recall long term memories. He'll never regain what he's lost, but he wants to make sure he keeps the memories he has.

"I think the only thing I really don't look forward to is, or fear is, if the worst case situation happens to me, what it will be like for my wife and my daughters," Utecht said.

That fear led the aspiring musician to write a love letter to them, which he turned into a song.

"So I found myself on this plane returning home, just weeping," Utecht said. "I mean, I started writing this letter to my wife and daughters from the perspective of the aging NFL-er who may not remember their names someday."

He released the music video shortly after testing in front of Congress about the NFL and concussions. It's since gone viral.

Despite his challenges, Utecht says he doesn't regret playing football.

"Do I regret playing? I don't regret loving this game, and I don't regret playing this game," he said. "But my heart will break if it leads to something that will hurt my family in the future."

Utecht is working on a book which he hopes to have out before the NFL season begins next year. It's tentatively titled: "Counting the Days, While My Mind Slips Away."