Part I: What happened to Kevin Kolb?
Four concussions rocked the quarterback's world more than anyone knew. Kevin Kolb is the story of pro football as much as any star on TV, and he opens up to Go Long about it all this two-part series.
This is a two-part series. First up: The spiral downhill.
He set the internal timer at five minutes. Kevin Kolb knew he had all of five minutes at FedEx Field to decide whether or not his football career was over.
Because into this 2013 season, the Buffalo Bills’ new starting quarterback made up his mind. One more concussion would be four since 2010. His symptoms after No. 3 were so bad, so scary that even a murderous competitor like him knew there was no debate. Concussion No. 4 would swiftly prompt retirement. After absorbing a knee to the head this exhibition game against the Washington Redskins — on Aug. 24, 2013 — Kolb momentarily blacked out, went numb from his neck down and stayed in the game. Even led the Bills to a touchdown that drive.
But he obviously feared the worse. And, this time, his employer genuinely cared. Offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett told Kolb that the team’s general manager, Doug Whaley, had called down. He saw the head shot from above in the press box.
“What do you want to do?” Hackett asked.
As the Redskins received the ensuing kickoff, time ticked. Kolb asked for five minutes to be alone with his thoughts. He knew this was bad, but how bad? The rush of adrenaline that masked the pain wore off and Kolb started hyper-analyzing his predicament. Started searching for a fire escape in the maze of a troubled mind: Are you sure you blacked out? Are you sure you went numb? My vision’s blurry and I’m struggling to walk straight but is this really a concussion? Without Kolb, the Bills would have no choice but to rocket-launch E.J. Manuel, a green rookie, into action Week 1. Pressure not lost on Kolb as Hackett paced. And paced.
Finally, the QB calmed himself.
He had played at FedEx several times before. Here, the fans are a mere 15 feet away. When he turned around, the sight was horrifying.
All he saw was a mix of maroon and gold. Kolb couldn’t make out one fan’s face.
His five minutes were up.
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Two weeks ago, the game we love was celebrated once again. More than 312,000 fans congregated in Kansas City to attend the 2023 NFL Draft, a simple proceeding that the league has turned into its own Woodstock. Only a much more potent psychedelic than LSD is passed around by attendees: Hope. Adults paint their faces, dress up in Halloween costumes and scream at full throat after their beloved team takes an offensive guard from McTucky Tech who they didn’t even know existed two seconds ago. The overrated Beastie Boys blare. YouTubers “Dude Perfect” shamelessly sneak in an NFL Sunday Ticket plug before making a draft pick with Donna Kelce. And, hey, there’s those Bills inviting a “social media influencer” from Canada to make a pick.
What a change from the scene in 2007. Once upon a time, the Philadelphia Eagles selected a quarterback from the University of Houston with the 36th pick and fans on-site ruthlessly booed, flashed thumbs down and stormed away in disgust. Ah, yes. Simpler times. Sadly, that player’s name only washes away in time. Forgotten amid the NFL’s nauseating pageantry. Yet, Kevin Kolb is full proof that pro football is so much more than what the 54 million saw at home watching the NFL Draft and the 113 million saw in Super Bowl LVIII.
More than Roger Goodell bro hugs. More than Patrick Mahomes taking off on one good leg to lead his Kansas City Chiefs to a valiant Super Bowl title in Glendale, Ariz.
This summer marks the 10-year anniversary of this quarterback’s unceremonious exit. And, as much as football’s worth celebrating, there is a dark side. A cost. An underbelly nobody should pretend does not exist.
Concussions did more than damage Kolb’s brain. The hell on earth sent him spiraling into an isolated depression. Perpetually on the cusp of NFL glory — from Donovan McNabb’s handpicked successor to inking a five-year, $63.5 million deal as the face of the Arizona Cardinals to starting for the Buffalo Bills — he, too, envisioned hoisting the Lombardi Trophy. Instead that Glendale stadium was more house of horrors. Each time Kolb was anointed, his brain was battered. Each time his brain was battered, he became less of himself.
Life after Concussion No. 4 was particularly scary.
He nearly killed himself in a head-on collision. And forgot how to drive his daughter to preschool a mile and a half away. And occasionally worried he hit one of his kids backing out of the driveway. Kolb tripped into a bottomless pit of despair.
Such is a world fans have forgotten all about. Somehow, concussions in the NFL shifted from a national crisis that demanded Congress’ attention to the Page F17 cobwebs of our minds. I first chatted with Kolb at the peak of awareness, in 2015, for this piece at The Buffalo News. Kolb was open… to a point. Which was understandable. Personal trauma was still fresh. Since then, concussions took a backseat to other controversies: Kneeling, the Miami Dolphins’ tampering, all things Dan Snyder, Deshaun Watson, the Covid-19 vaccine mandate, etc. Cynical as it sounds, I think the NFL was quite pleased to take on these PR issues rather than one that could genuinely cost owners billions of dollars because these issues, in theory, were fixable.
Push Snyder out. Suspend Watson. Make the unvaxxed wear a mask during press conferences. Strip Miami of a draft pick. Paint a slogan in the end zone and, voila, racism’s solved!
Head trauma, however, is a thorny issue.
As long as football remains a contact sport, the NFL cannot make this problem disappear with one swoop of a magic wand. Owners merely hope you’re not paying attention. That proved difficult last season with one of the game’s premier quarterbacks, Miami’s Tua Tagovailoa, suffering very-public, very-grisly concussions. Sights that prompted another call to Kolb. This time, he relives every hit, every emotion. In Part I, we examine how his NFL career fell apart. In Part II, Kolb details his personal rock bottom and how he got his life back. His odyssey is inspiring retirees across the country.
I love football. You love football. The fact that this profession isn’t for everybody is 100 percent what makes it the greatest sport on the planet. Like anything we love in life, we cannot ignore its flaws.
Kolb’s descent is the story of the sport as much as any quarterback’s ascent. This is how the universe works. For every triumph, there’s tragedy. There’s that kid booed on draft day getting his chance under the same head coach who stood on that Super Bowl podium with Mahomes. So, that’s where this conversation begins: Week 1 of the 2010 NFL season at Lincoln Financial Field. In a sharp Kelly-green uniform, No. 4 took the field as the Philadelphia Eagles’ starting quarterback.
Play-by-play man Joe Buck set the stage.
“I can’t wait to see how Kevin Kolb plays here this afternoon.”
“Everybody’s looking forward to it,” Troy Aikman replied. “He’s waited three years for this opportunity and his hopes are to take advantage of it.”
Eight minutes remain in the first half. It’s 3-3. Third and 14. This is the pressure Kolb’s been dying for as a backup. From his own 18-yard line, lined up in the shotgun, he stares down the barrel of a Green Bay defense that ranked No. 1 last season. “Green 80!” Kolb barks. The Packers only rush three defenders but the pressure of Cullen Jenkins inside flushes Kolb to his left. The quarterback sees something downfield and hesitates to pull up for a throw before re-tucking. Little does he know Clay Matthews is hot on his trail. All the linebacker needs is that fraction of a second to catch, corral and body-slam Kolb. A huge chunk of grass gets lodged in the corner of his facemask. Grimacing in pain, Kolb’s eyes are closed.
Fox’s camera pans to his family up above in a box. His wife clasps her hands, concerned.
Kolb manages to walk off under his power.
He returns for one more series and heads into halftime. His day is done.
Ugly as this appeared, the aftershock of Concussion No. 1 wasn’t that bad.
Kolb recalls brief memory loss. Nothing painful. He also credits the Eagles’ training staff for never putting pressure on him to play. Over the years, he’s been asked to join lawsuits but declined every time because he always felt properly counseled by trainers. After four days, Kolb felt like himself. After 10, he was back to whistling fastballs. There was only one problem: Michael Vick, fresh off 548 days in federal prison, was too good to take off the field. Ahead of this season, head coach Andy Reid asked Kolb for permission to sign Vick. It was fine by him. Now, he was a backup for the fourth straight season.
Kolb briefly got the call when Vick went down with injury, sizzling for 326 yards and three touchdowns vs. Atlanta. But it didn’t matter. This was Vick’s team.
Now, he worried if one hit cost him millions of dollars.
He has no clue why he didn’t throw the damn ball away.
“What am I doing?” Kolb says. “I was trying to make a play, thinking I’d get out of the pocket like it’s college. No, it’s Clay Matthews, boss. You ain’t going to outrun him.”
A lockout gripped the NFL through the offseason — feeding more uncertainty, more anxiety — but, finally, Kolb got his big break. On July 29, 2011, the Eagles traded him to the Cardinals for cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a second-round pick. Kolb’s mega contract included $21 million guaranteed. He headed to the desert determined to play through anything.
The workplace environment was different in 2011. “League of Denial,” the groundbreaking book and documentary that served as a nationwide wake-up call to concussions won’t be released until October 2013. So, forgive the color commentator in this Week 2 tilt between Arizona and Washington for describing Brian Orakpo’s legal, yet vicious hit on Kolb as a “spinal-tap knockout shot.”
The quarterback’s head whiplashes — violently. He stays in the game, a 22-21 loss.
Kolb tells nobody with the team about this second concussion.
In his mind, it’s not an option.
He felt trapped. Completely, utterly trapped. That’s the best way to describe the next six weeks of Kevin Kolb’s life. He repeats the word several times. After Concussion No. 2, Arizona lost six straight games. Kolb wasn’t himself and felt like there was absolutely nothing he could say about it.
The pressure was too suffocating. This team had just made him one of the richest players in the sport — Kolb needed to play. Especially after four years of waiting. He never said a word to the training staff. Loss… after loss… after loss… led to more “heartache,” more “depression.” Kolb faded into an unknown all alone — and he wasn’t exactly sure what was wrong. Was he feeling this way because he was depressed? Sleep-deprived? Emotionally exhausted due to the season caving in? In the moment, Kolb wasn’t sure.
Only later did he realize the concussion from Orakpo’s hit triggered all the above.
“That was a point of solitude and isolation,” Kolb says, “I felt like I was trapped.”
At home, he was a miserable husband and father. Years later, loved ones told Kolb he was “100 percent unapproachable” those two months in 2011. If his wife asked, “Are you OK?” Kolb quickly shot her down. He didn’t want anyone’s sympathy. Instead, he remained isolated and angry. The son of a hard-driving coach, Kolb starred at Stephenville (Texas) High School, then Houston, before patiently biding his time for this opportunity. Everything he had worked for his entire life was now spiraling out of control. The Cardinals were two years removed from a Kurt Warner-led Super Bowl run and he was the man entrusted to keep that window open.
Instead, he played more carelessly than ever before. The symptoms affected his play.
Says Kolb: “I’m just falling off the rails.”
Considering he never pulled himself out after that Orakpo hit — never said a peep — Kolb knew it’d be a terrible look to inform the team out of the blue, “I’m dealing with this from that.” In the old NFL, this is interpreted as an excuse for stinking up the joint. (“They’re going to say, ‘Sure, you say you’re feeling like that. You played like crap,’” Kolb says.) Hence, trapped. This wasn’t a torn ligament or a broken bone that everyone could see. Nor was knowledge of concussions truly mainstream.
Kolb won’t point the finger at Arizona’s trainers because this was still the era of what he calls “suck it up” football. Nobody knew what you were allowed to say when it came to the brain.
By the time 1-5 Arizona traveled to Baltimore, his brain was healed. But his confidence? Shot. Obliterated. As he looked around his penthouse suite in Baltimore that Sunday, Kolb saw at least seven windows and told himself there’s no way he could hit any of them with a football. The last thing he wanted to do was play a football game. The team bus was heading to the stadium in 15 minutes and Kolb had zero clue how he’d take the field to face Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Terrell Suggs and this nasty defense.
If he was trapped before, now he was begging for mercy.
Right then, Mom’s old advice to pray in times of trouble — “Hit your knees,” she’d say — rang through his mind. Screw it, Kolb told himself, I’m doing it. First came a feeling of embarrassment. Kolb hadn’t prayed in months, hadn’t been to church in forever. The quarterback knelt against the bed and poured his guts out. All anger. All frustration. He was never this vulnerable before in his life. Kolb prayed for God to get him out of this game by any means. He didn’t care if God himself needed to wreck the bus on the way to the Ravens stadium — he was in zero mental condition to play. Overwhelmed in every sense of the word.
He’ll never forget what happened next.
“An angel picked me up. I don’t even know how I stood up off the bed,” Kolb says. “Seriously. And I’m not trying to be over-spiritual. I’m being for real. I turned around and looked behind me, like, ‘What was that?’ It was crazy.”
Newfound confidence — on the spot — coursed through his veins. Kolb felt equipped to face the Ravens, to take on any obstacle. He got on that bus and a long chat with his close friend Joe Flacco during pregame helped even more. Kolb asked the Ravens quarterback how he was dealing with so much public scrutiny — the QB hadn’t won a Super Bowl yet. Flacco told him that he sincerely did not listen to anything. Good, bad, indifferent, he genuinely stopped giving a shit. Kolb, forever a people-pleaser, realized he needed to operate the same way.
The crowd was electric.
Lewis, Baltimore’s belligerent linebacker, exited the tunnel with a divot of grass in his hand and pretended to eat it. Kolb? He remembers being “laser-focused” and, by God, it showed. He began by lacing a 66-yard missile to Larry Fitzgerald on a seam post, one of the most difficult throws for any quarterback. Kolb saw Baltimore sneak its safety into the box pre-snap and smoked one to Fitz, who honestly should’ve scored on the play. The Cardinals were forced to settle for a field goal, but Kolb was excellent. With 3:52 left in the half, he hit Early Doucet on a back-shoulder route for a 10-yard touchdown that gave Arizona a 24-3 lead. “That was an absolute laser shot from Kevin Kolb,” color commentator (and ex-Ravens coach) Brian Billick said on the broadcast. “That thing has to be on the proverbial frozen rope. Kevin Kolb has that kind of arm.”
His magic power had returned.
Kolb went full Henry Rowengartner.
“Like Rookie of the Year with his arm,” says Kolb, referencing the ’93 cult classic. “Boom, Boom, Boom. We’re smoking ‘em.”
Teammates were elated. One by one, they congratulated Kolb on the sideline. Unfortunately, it was all a mirage. That same first half, Kolb also ripped every ligament in his toe. X-ray images showed that nothing was broken, but this was bad. So bad Kolb couldn’t push off his foot. Hell, he could barely execute a handoff to the running back. In his opinion, backup John Skelton would’ve been the team’s best option in the second half. Yet while the team doctor advised he sit out, Kolb says head coach Ken Whisenhunt instructed him to play. Whisenhunt saw Kolb light it up and knew this was a must-win game.
Kolb did not protest and taped the foot up.
Arizona lost, 30-27.
He’ll never forget the look of terror on the faces of the team’s training staff when they removed his cleat afterward. The swelling. The bruising. Sixty percent of his foot was black and blue. Kolb could’ve been confused for an extra in a 90s slasher film.
“They were scared to death,” Kolb says. “They thought they ruined my career, ruined my foot. I remember seeing the look on their face, like, Oh, we screwed this one up.
“You have this ‘I told you so’ feeling. Now what? I fought harder. I hurt my foot worse. And we lost. Why didn’t we just talk about it as men and figure out what the best solution was at halftime?”
Right when Kolb was turning a corner, he was forced to sit four weeks. He clutched dearly to that confidence reboot, that Rowengartner rush of euphoria. I got it! I got it! he repeated to stay in good spirits. The Cardinals’ defense started played better through the 2-2 stretch and it hit Kolb: Temper his gunslingin’ nature and his best days were in front of him. When Kolb returned, he led the Cardinals to a thrilling overtime win over the 7-4 Cowboys.
This was the breakthrough he dreamt of for four years.
An unblocked Anthony Spencer in his face, Kolb deftly floated backward to avoid the sack and sling a quick pass to LaRod Stephens-Howling, who weaved 52 yards to the house.
He wasn’t depressed anymore, no.
As teammates piled on top of each other in the end zone, Kolb ran downfield in jubilation.
The very next week, Arizona hosts the San Francisco 49ers. On his second snap of the game, Kolb is slammed into the turf but does a marvelous job of breaking the fall with his left forearm. He’s OK. The next play, on third and 6, he isn’t so lucky. While being sacked by Justin Smith, he fumbles. Linebacker Ahmad Brooks hustles to the loose ball and inadvertently strikes Kolb in the side of the helmet with his knee.
Kolb slingshots forward. Violently.
He cannot hide this concussion.
The lack of support from teammates and coaches hurt. Their response to this injury was cold.
At least the medical staff knew the truth.
“They knew I wasn’t a liar,” Kolb says. “They knew what I had been through with my foot.”
Either way, none of it mattered. Kolb realized how bad this looked. A player getting paid the big bucks was out… again. There was no way he could play through this concussion because, while everyone else thought this was Concussion No. 2, it was actually No. 3. The symptoms were worse than anyone could’ve guessed. His season was over. Stricken with guilt, with a burning desire to show teammates he cared, Kolb nonetheless traveled with his team to Cincinnati. He didn’t want anyone to think he “abandoned” them — Kolb suspected many players already felt this way. So instead of staying home in a dark room, the quarterback joined them on the sidelines.
A colossal mistake.
Everything was “too bright” and “too loud.” Sunglasses and earplugs only accomplished so much. Google the longest list of concussion symptoms you can find and Kolb estimates he was dealing with 80 percent of them that sunny day. Nauseous. Dizzy. His ears were ringing. He toggled in and out of the locker room to collect himself.
“My head,” Kolb says, “was going to explode. This was the first time I thought my brain was swollen. This is scary. I’m scared to death about what I’m going through.”
Skeleton started those final three games and the Arizona Cardinals’ 2011 season mercifully concluded.
Kolb doesn’t necessarily blame teammates for questioning him this season. On the outside, he appeared fine.
“I’m supposed to come in and be the next Kurt Warner,” Kolb says. “And they’re like, ‘Is this guy tough? Is he not tough? He didn’t play well, then he played well, then he got hurt. He’s got this concussion. He’s talking about having two concussions.’ They didn’t trust me and I don’t blame ‘em. They just didn’t know who I was. And they’re reeling. They’re saying, ‘We suck. We’re losing. We’re fighting for our jobs. We need you out there.’ So, you’re backed into a corner by everybody and it’s nobody’s fault. It’s just the circumstances of how the NFL was at that point and the recognition of what these players go through when they’re dealing with the mental side of things.
“They were losing their trust in me. The trust in me being the quarterback of the future. And I can’t blame them for some of those things. I also couldn’t fully communicate what I was going through. No. 1, they didn’t want to listen. No. 2, sometimes as a football player, you’ve just got to shut up and go for it. I did it one time. I wish I wouldn’t have.”
In all, it took Kolb 10 weeks to recover from this third concussion. At the eight-week mark — in the middle of the night — he sauntered into his bathroom and couldn’t stand upright. Kolb stumbled. Banged into the walls. Decided right then with his wife that he’d quit the sport for good if he suffered one more concussion. When players reconvened in Arizona, Kolb told the organization exactly that. He was treating his brain like a punching bag before even turning 30. His days of hiding anything were over.
The Cardinals staged an open competition between Kolb and Skelton in training camp, Skelton won, Skelton suffered an ankle sprain in Week 1 and Kolb picked up exactly where he left off. Back to that first half in Baltimore. Back to that OT win vs. Dallas. He never forgot that winning formula in his head. Be smart with the ball and Kolb could still achieve greatness. Arizona slayed an ascending Seahawks team that’d win the Super Bowl the next year. Then, the defending AFC Champions in Tom Brady’s New England Patriots. Then, Philly. Then, Miami.
Arizona was 4-0.
Yet, again, it was all a torturous hallucination.
On a game-tying drive against the Buffalo Bills two weeks later, with 2 minutes to go, Kolb whipped the typically tepid Cards fan base into a frenzy with a dashing 22-yard run. He hurried his offense to the line and — on a broken play — turned upfield to salvage what he could before making a wise decision. He immediately collapsed into the fetal position to protect his head. Nonetheless, 6-foot-5, 284-pound defensive end Alex Carrington had time to legally flatten the QB.
Kolb broke his sternum. His season was over.
Two years into that mega contract, Kolb was released by Arizona.
The good news? The Bills never forgot Kolb’s fight that night.
Team president Russ Brandon, along with GM Buddy Nix, head coach Doug Marrone and offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett all met with Kolb in Texas over dinner that 2013 offseason. When they asked about his concussions, the quarterback was honest. He explained how the symptoms became progressively worse one… to two…to three, admitting that a fourth would effectively end of his career. Kolb also made it clear that he played a ton of “rough football” those six games in 2012 and emerged without any head trauma. Between the 4-0 start and the Buffalo game, the St. Louis Rams sacked him nine times. His helmet popped off twice. He was OK.
Kolb remained confident. “I got my mojo back,” he remembers saying. “I’m ready to come play ball.”
The Bills were honest, too. They told Kolb their plan was to draft a quarterback high in that 2013 draft and for Kolb to serve as a bridge starter.
Kolb signed April 8 and Nix drafted Florida State’s Manuel 16th overall on April 25 before abruptly retiring — a shock to everyone. His replacement, Whaley, planned to start Kolb in 2013 and bring Manuel along slowly. On Aug. 3, at St. John Fisher College, those plans nearly blew to smithereens. Hustling between drills, Kolb slipped on a slippery rubber mat that was covering concrete. After his knee twisted at an awkward angle, Kolb feared the worst. This is how ACLs tear. He threw his helmet in frustration. He’s still sickened by this injury. (“I was mad. I was mad at myself. I was just mad.”) Looking back, Kolb wonders aloud if this was God telling him to stop playing football.
The next day, he received a phone call in the dorm. His grandmother died — a brutal loss. They were extremely close.
Thankfully, Kolb dodged serious injury. After missing eight days of camp, he was back. He suffered some damage to his knee cap, wore a brace and practiced with a noticeable limp — all minor details. His spirits were lifted once more. As August dragged on, the Bills made it clear this was his team. More than revitalizing his own career, Kolb was jacked to win for Hackett. The up-tempo offense — and Hackett’s infectious exuberance — rejuvenated him beyond his wildest imagination. This felt like backyard football, like the run and shoot back in college. Buffalo’s third exhibition game against Washington would serve as the perfect tune-up. Proof. Nobody was quite sure yet if this fast-paced scheme would translate from the whiteboard to the field. An urgency to ram-rod Hackett’s X’s and O’s to perfection fueled Kolb.
This was more than an ordinary preseason game.
He knifed an 11-yarder to Robert Woods. He took a naked boot four yards.
“You could feel a momentum behind us of, ‘Hey, we’re clicking. This may work.’”
Kolb stepped up to the line on third and 5 from the Redskins 37.
Flushed out of the pocket, he saw an opening.
He hit the gas.
There’s nothing nefarious about this eight-yard gain. No chilling collision, no stretcher. But after Kolb innocently falls forward — coast clear, play over, wisely taking cover again — one Redskin cannot stop. It’s linebacker Brandon Jenkins. A man who’d register all of two career tackles in his NFL career. Jenkins glides downfield in pursuit of Kolb and dings him in the head with his knee.
Nineteen seconds of real time is all that passes before the next play. But in those 19 seconds, Kolb first blacks out. On his feet, his body then goes numb. When running back Fred Jackson grabs him, he’s still tingling. An official approaches Kolb and he pushes him away. Mainly because the next play call’s being relayed by Hackett into his headset. Kolb hustles back to line of scrimmage and completes a short completion to Woods.
One chinstrap is still unbuckled. He doesn’t bother snapping it back in.
The Bills finish this uplifting drive with a C.J. Spiller touchdown run.
Kolb returns to the sideline.
Time begins to tick.
Kevin Kolb turned toward the Redskins’ fans — was greeted with that blur of colors — and freaked.
He told himself, right then, he was finished.
When those five minutes elapsed, and Hackett reappeared for a verdict, no words needed to be said. Kolb finally had a coach who listened, who cared. All he needed to do was shake his head and Hackett went pale. He was crushed. The coordinator took a deep breath and told the other coaches on the headset to buckle up. Everyone’s worst fears were here.
Off Kolb went to the locker room one final time. The quarterback laid his blue No. 4 jersey on the floor, snapped a photo and sent it to his wife with the words: “We’re going home.” He knew this was a possibility all along, but that didn’t make saying goodbye to football any easier. Football defined him as long as he can remember.
Chatting over the phone, Kolb chokes up.
“I’m sad right now thinking about it.”
Teammates and coaches wouldn’t be herding into the locker room for another hour, so Kolb had the room all to himself. To this day, he’s grateful that the Bills training staff left him alone. He needed complete solitude. After his wife responded, Kolb tucked his cell phone away, stared at that jersey, and sobbed.
The hardest part? He loved Buffalo. He loved the team. Kolb felt like he was letting everybody down.
He was still in his pads. His mind raced:
Are you sure this is it? You just told your wife you’re going home. Are you sure you don’t want to go out on top? No, no. I’ve been through that resurrection thing in Arizona and got hurt again. I don’t need that. I’m past that. I proved himself. I’m fine.
A trainer eventually poked his head in to inform Kolb that his teammates were coming. They needed to bring him into a separate room.
He was done. He wouldn’t need to prepare for an NFL defense ever again. Instead, the symptoms of Concussion No. 4 now lurked. Life-threatening symptoms that’d linger for eight months.
Before anything in life could get better, it needed to get worse. Much worse.
The crazy thing? Concussions weren’t even his worst problem.
The near head-on collision that could’ve ended his life.
Life as a “recluse.”
The NFL’s absurd disability runaround.
A religious awakening that served as Kolb’s turning point.
Perspective from ex-teammates Daryn Colledge and Lee Smith.
How Kolb is helping ex-NFL players across the country today.