Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s Biggest Victory Was Raising Concussion Awareness

Source: usatoday.com | Re-Post Duerson Fund 4/26/2017 – 

For everything he accomplished on the race track, and there was plenty, nothing carried as much weight as what Dale Earnhardt Jr. did off of it.

By being open and honest about his concussions and the impact they had not just on his racing career but his entire life, Earnhardt broadened the discussion about head trauma. Be it other athletes, his fans or people who just recognized his famous last name, there are countless others who are better because of his struggles.

“I’ve been waiting for the last 10 years for somebody to be that proactive,” said Chris Nowinski, co-founder of the Concussion Legacy Foundation, a partner of the Veterans Administration-Boston University brain bank. “I hope more athletes realize the power they have in changing this conversation and the role they can play.

“Dale Jr. has set the bar.”

Earnhardt announced Tuesday that he will retire from NASCAR’s Cup series at the end of this season. His health is good now, but his experience last season, when he missed the last 18 races after his second concussion in four years, made him realize how fine the line can be in contact sports.

One day you’re doing what you love most, racing around a track at 125 mph or more. The next you’re simply trying to get your eyes to focus and wondering if your world will ever look normal again.

“I had a lot to think about over the last several months. I was not sure that I would have the opportunity to compete,” Earnhardt said during a news conference at Hendrick Motorsports. “I wanted to be able to make that decision myself on retiring and not really have it made for me.”

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