Ben Utecht is a former NFL tight end. He played five years in the league and even caught a touchdown pass from legendary quarterback Peyton Manning in the 2007 Super Bowl.
However, during his five-year career, Utecht suffered at least five concussions that have since affected his long-term memory.
According to Fox News, losing his long-term memory prompted Utecht to write a book called, “Counting the Days While My Mind Slips Away: A Love Letter to My Family.”
The book is a way to help Utecht preserve his fondest memories. He tells Fox News:
“The book is a way to get people to care about their memories and their minds. Maybe for the first time to realize how important their memories are to their identity. And that was a lesson I learned over the course of writing this book, which really allowed me to value every moment in my life better, and it gave me more purpose.”
The 35-year-old admits to the Monday Morning QB that he has no memory of a friend’s wedding, where not only was he a groomsman, but he also sang at the event. Utecht says knowing his memory is slipping away is the “most awful feeling.”
He didn't realize how special memories were until recently:
“I try to value every moment, no matter how small,” he says. “Until recently, I never realized how special memory is. This book is a keepsake. I wanted to provide content for my daughters to be able to hold on to, to have forever.”
Utecht also wants the book to serve as a “legacy story” for his four daughters, who range in ages from one to seven years old.
He wants them to know how much he cherished the memories he made with them, even if some day can't remember them himself:
"The foundation of writing the book was to really give a legacy story to my family with the realities that many former NFL players face due to the consequences of concussion,” Utecht said. “And when I left the game at 30 years old already having some long-term memory problems it really made me think long and hard about bad questions.”
While his daughters might be a bit too young to understand what their father's book is really about, it's the music video for a song he wrote a few years ago that has allowed him to have a discussion with his girls about what his future looks like.
Utecht admits that the video lends the opportunity to talk about his time in the NFL, and how it ended because “daddy hurt his head.”
“Not only myself but my wife was captain of the golf team at the University of Minnesota, so we have an athletic family,” he tells Fox News. “And I don't doubt that my girls are going to want to take part in sports. It will be the topic of conversation we have with them as they continue to get older.”
Now, Utecht is encouraging other parents to get educated about concussions and what to do if their child has one.