There was a time not long ago when head injuries were treated with all the seriousness of a tweaked ankle or strained hamstring. In recent years, however, the medical profession has begun to better understand the long-term effects of head trauma. In response, the NFL, colleges and high schools have taken a renewed approach to player safety, particularly when talking about concussions.
And it's for that reason that UConn sophomore fullback Mike Osiecki has withdrawn from school. The university made the announcement Thursday. Osiecki, according to SNY.com's John Silver, likely suffered a concussion in practice this fall. He missed the last two games with dizziness and an inability to focus on the coaching staff, his father, Sandy, a former NFL quarterback, said.
And unlike scores of players who return to the field, Osiecki's football career is over.
He won’t be able to play anymore,” Sandy Osiecki told the Hartford Courant's Desmond Conner. “He’s still allowed to go back in January, finish up school. That’s the main thing but his football days are over.”
Osiecki's father thinks that this wasn't the first time his son suffered a concussion.
“I’m sure he probably had a couple in high school,” he told Conner. “He had headaches, never really said anything. He was never diagnosed in high school but I’m sure he had a few. And then even his first year [at UConn], the spring football game, during a kickoff he sustained another one and sat out the whole game and I’m sure he’s had two or three since then. I think once you’re susceptible like that…you take a couple weeks here, couple weeks there but no one knows these days. I think once you get them it just doesn’t stop.”
Mike Osiecki arrived in Storrs from Seymour, Conn., where he was a running back and middle linebacker. He played linebacker until last spring, when he made the move to fullback where he had three receptions for 32 yards this season.
UConn has declined to comment other than to say that Osiecki has withdrawn from school, according to Silver. And now getting on with the rest of his life -- one without football -- is his new reality. One Sandy Osiecki said won't come easy.
“He is still just kid and has a lot of growing up,” Sandy said via Silver. “Playing football your whole life and being told that has hit home.”
Back in February, 2009, then-coach Randy Edsall talked about incoming the incoming freshman from Seymour. "He's a tough, hard-nosed guy that will do the dirty work. He played tailback (in high school), he played middle linebacker, he never came off the field. He's one of those tough Valley kids."