In August 2008, Taylor Twellman suffered a severe in-match concussion, one that would limit his play for the rest of the MLS season and lead to him only playing two matches in 2009 and then retiring after the 2010 season after being unable to return to the field. Twellman has remained prominent since then, especially as a key ESPN soccer analyst (he gained early praise for Euro 2012 work, and has been a fixture there since then across many levels of soccer, as well as with appearances on ESPN general-sports programming and hosting of SportsNation), and throughout that time, he’s been very open about his battles with lingering concussion effects. He had one particularly notable comment on how bad those hit him ahead of one particular match on a recent Twitter Space:, as shared by Seth Macomber of SB Nation’s The Bent Musket New England Revolution blog:
The whole conversation is worth listening to but this section in particular stood out to me. @TaylorTwellman says he took meds and shotgunned a beer before his final game for the #NERevs https://t.co/3aOOkEGacg
— Seth (@SethMan31) August 28, 2022
“[They were like] ‘We thought we solved what you were going through.’ There were nights, Jeff, where I was sleeping 90 minutes, there were other nights where I slept 14 hours. But the last game I played in 2008, dude, I took meds that I never was taking, and I shotgunned a beer to take the, literally, buzz out of what was going on.”
It’s appreciated how open how Twellman (seen above on SportsCenter in March 2022) has repeatedly been about how concussions have affected him. It’s definitely not easy to be this forthright about one’s health. But being public about the experience of concussions and their aftereffects can help others dealing with them, including with their decisions on how and when to try to return to play. And Twellman has long done a lot for concussion advocacy, including with his THINKTaylor Foundation and with his decision to donate his brain for research to the Boston University-affiliated Concussion Legacy Foundation after his death. In 2010, around his retirement, he spoke to NECN about the challenges he faced from concussions:
“It’s unfortunate to lose a career to an injury,” said Twellman. “I don’t have a choice, unfortunately. When you’re told that if you want to live your life and be healthy then soccer needs to stop, the decision’s made for me.”
…”I sure as hell didn’t know New York last year was going to be my last game,” said Twellman.
“The hardest part about this injury is I can do zero about it,” said Twellman, calling it the most humbling experience of his life. “I’ve done it all, I’ve tried it all, I’m sick and I’m injured.”
Those are certainly some frightening concussion effects. And there have been many reports of players in soccer and other sports turning to alcohol and drugs to try and manage the pain they were dealing with from concussions. But Twellman’s story here is particularly notable for how severely he was impacted before this match.
[Seth Macomber on Twitter; screengrab from ESPN FC on YouTube]