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A Former Football Player's Life After Concussions: Daily Meds and Forgetfulness

Former UAB football player Kevin Drake (abc3340.com)

Kevin Drake writes down appointments in his daily planner. That’s not unusual. What is unusual is the kind of appointments he includes because he has short-term memory loss.

“It’s ridiculous,” Drake told ABC 33/40 Investigates. “You look at it. ‘You have to write that down?’ Yes, I write down 8 a.m.: Meds, breakfast—because I forget to eat. I write down at 12: Meds, lunch. I write down at 4 o’clock: Meds. I write down at 3 o’clock, girls from school.”

Drake played quarterback and wide receiver for UAB in the 1990’s. Then he played wide receiver for a number of NFL teams including the Arizona Cardinals, Dallas Cowboys, and NFL Europe where he won the World Bowl. He also played for the Birmingham Thunderbolts of the XFL. His last game was in 2001.

Grinder and Journeyman

Drake wasn’t a football star. He was a grinder and journeyman who gave everything he had to try to avoid getting cut—which happened a lot. He suffered at least 10 concussions during his football career and he was knocked out three times.

He takes as many as 10 pills a day to manage migraines, attention deficit disorder, depression, mood disorders, and other problems caused by all those hard hits. He’s trying to stay normal living out of a pill box.

“It sucks,” Drake said. “It really does. But it’s life. It’s what I have to deal with.”

The little things can be the most frustrating—like that time Drake lost his cell phone.

“And I’ve walked around this house for 15 minutes looking for my phone, and it’s been in my hand the entire time,” Drake said. “Trying to manage that has been the hardest thing for me.”

He’s also suffered from anger management issues that we’ve heard so much about among some players in the NFL. He takes medicine and has learned coping skills to manage that too.

“I have had outburst, after outburst, after outburst,” Drake said. “I’ll say things. I’ll get in an argument. I’ll get heated and not know how to cope with it. Once it goes, it’s like a switch and there’s no filter. There is no stopping it until I am out of breath.”

Drake is now program director for the Wise Up! Initiative, a non-profit that helps build awareness and educate people about concussions.

His goal is to make the game of football safer for younger players by spreading the word.

Learn more about the Wise Up Initiative.

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