Before being taken in by the Tuohy family, Michael Oher was homeless and living in poverty. If his story sounds familiar, you probably recognize it from the movie adaptation, “The Blindside.”
In 2014, he signed a contract with the Tennessee Titans and a year later found himself with the Carolina Panthers.
After only playing three games in the 2016 season, the former all-American was placed on concussion protocol in November.
On Thursday, his Instagram followers got a quick glimpse of just how much of a serious toll his profession has taken on his health. The offensive lineman posted on Instagram a photo of ten pill bottles with the caption, “All for the brain smh.”
Oher deleted the photo but senior football analyst at Cox Media, Ollie Connolly, posted a screenshot of it to Twitter:
Connolly captioned the photo with “a scary amount of pills,” and he wasn't alone in his concern for the veteran player.
NFL Columnist Mike Freeman called it “scary as hell”:
Former Ravens offensive tackle Eugene Monroe claimed he's been there as well and hopes he'll “do the right thing”:
One football fan highlighted the sacrifice players make for our entertainment:
Oher's health issues, combined with some off-field problems, have left his status on the Panthers in somewhat of a limbo. On Friday, Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman discussed the photo with Bill Voth, a digital reporter for the organization.
He cited the Instagram post as an answer for fans who were still wondering if Oher would be at the mandatory minicamp the following week. However, he quickly shifted away from football to address the real concern and said:
“Regardless, my primary interest is Michael's health ... Our No. 1 priority is a healthy Michael Oher. This is not about football, this is about Michael.”
Communication between the Panthers and Oher has been unreliable, and Gettleman described their last meeting on May 5:
“We really had a great visit. We talked for an hour, had lunch, it was a very comfortable conversation. We talked about a lot of things – nothing about football. It was about him, how he was doing and the issues he was dealing with.”
He added, “it started and ended well” and that Oher followed up with him for a few days. Before this meeting, the two hadn't spoken since early March and despite a few days of follow-up, it quickly reverted back to radio silence.
Concussions remain a serious problem for NFL players and a controversial issue for the entire organization. Fortune reported that despite a widespread medical consensus, the NFL only admitted to a connection between head trauma and brain damage in 2016.
Riddell, a former helmet manufacturer, has been sued by about 100 former players and the NFL settled their own lawsuit with 20,000 former players for $1 billion last year.
Despite technically being a current player, Oher seems to be one of the most recent examples of what life after football can look like.