NFL concussion story becomes personal for FOX Sports’ Pam Oliver
If you’re a part of the NFL media in any sense, you’ve done some reporting on concussions in the last few years. The league just settled with over 4,000 former players and their families to avoid the furtherance of lawsuits related to the NFL’s alleged cover-up of the severity of concussion symptoms. No matter what you think of the final amount — $765 million, and over $1 billion when legal fees are added — the lawsuits have certainly raised awareness when it comes to head trauma and football.
One member of the media can now speak from personal experience.
During pregame warmups for the Aug. 18 preseason game between the Indianapolis Colts and New York Giants, FOX Sports reporter Pam Oliver was hit in the head with a football errantly thrown by Colts backup quarterback Chandler Harnish. The video went fairly viral on social media, and Oliver laughed it off at the time, but the effects were far more imposing. Oliver had suffered a concussion, and as she recently told Bob Raissman of the New York Daily News, a pounding headache led to other symptoms.
“The sensitivity to light started, and some nausea too,” Oliver said. “My whole body was sore … “I slept for hours on end. The minute you wake up you’re reminded. Your head is pounding. I really could not take light — the light from the TV, the accent lighting. The sun was completely my enemy. My blinds were drawn. It was miserable.”
Oliver suffered short-term memory loss right away. After she was hit, she taped a segment with NFL official Ed Hochuli for “60 Minutes” and didn’t seem to remember what had happened before.
“I asked the people around me, ‘What happened?’ They told me I just got hit in the head with a football.”
Oliver told Raissman that she was worried about her memory, but that things started to clear up about five days later. “I felt clear-headed and stronger, but the headaches still come and go.”
Oliver’s reaction to her own concussion mirrors what so many players have done — “You don’t want to be wimpy, you just have to push through it,” she said, and the similarities do not escape her now.
“Players don’t want to be reminded about their concussions. They don’t want to be known as the guy who went down with one. They downplay it. Then it happens to me and I start wondering how these guys go back to being hit, taking all that punishment, a week or two later.”
Oliver is set to return to the sidelines for the Sept. 8 game between the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers, and she’ll certainly be a bit more observant.
“When I’m back on the sidelines, I’ll do what I always do: Stay a bit behind the line of scrimmage. And keep my head on a swivel.”