When it rains, it pours.
Amidst a month that has produced a steady stream of bad news for the current crop of Buffalo Bills defensive players, a retired ex-Bill also made headlines for troubling reasons in recent weeks.
In an interview with columnist Mike Sielski from Philly.com, ex-Bills safety Bryan Scott detailed the physical struggles he currently faces after his 10-year NFL playing career.
Scott, who is now 35 and four years removed from his last snap, has had a smooth transition to life after football. Living with his wife and four daughters 25 miles north of Atlanta, Scott owns and operates two businesses, including a personal-training franchise that continues to keep him in great shape. He also has appeared on the TV show ‘Shark Tank,’ and is a skilled musician that can capably play the guitar, piano, and drums.
However, Scott is beginning to feel the effects of his playing career. Much like the well-documented battles that former Bills greats Thurman Thomas and Darryl Talley continue to face, Scott is worried about the side effects of the number of “dingers” that he accumulated during his career.
Scott and Sielski’s recounting of one of Scott’s worst concussions, which came courtesy of a high hit from longtime New England special teams ace Matthew Slater in late 2009, provided a distressing look into the danger associated with playing in the NFL.
Scott has no memory of the subsequent 30 minutes. His helmet off, he rolled onto his side to try to get up. He couldn't at first. The Bills' medical staff helped him to his feet, and he walked to the sideline. There - and the telecast returned from a commercial break in time for Kim Scott to see this - he rode a motorized cart to the trainers' room. Kim and her family began texting and calling each other to see if any of them had communicated with Bryan. None of them had.
"My hands were shaking," she said. "It was probably the worst day of my life."
Here is what Scott remembered about the collision's aftermath: He was sitting in the trainers' room, and across from him was a teammate. That dude looks familiar, Scott said to himself, but he couldn't come up with the guy's name. The teammate, a wide receiver named Terrell Owens, was still in Scott's line of vision when one of the team doctors began talking to Scott.
"Bryan," the doctor said, "we got your cellphone out of your locker. We need to call your family to tell them everything's OK. What's the passcode to your phone?"
"I don't know," Scott said.
"Well, do you have any family here?"
Scott didn't respond for a few moments. Then he started to cry. He not only couldn't remember if any of his family members - his father; his sister; his mother, Ruth; his younger brother, Brandon - were at the game; he couldn't remember any of their names.
"How did I get in the training room?" he finally said.
"We had to bring you in. You suffered a concussion."
"Is the game over?"
"Who did we play?"
"Did we win?"
Following that injury, Scott would miss the final two regular season games for the Bills in 2009, but he would go on to play three more seasons in Buffalo and missed only a single game due to injury.
Despite consistently proving to be able to suit up on Sundays, Scott developed serious concerns regarding the negative impact the sport he loved was having on his body. After tackling an opposing ball carrier, Scott’s body would go limp on its way to the ground, and he would see stars more frequently than prior to Slater’s hit. He also would find himself openly pondering, while playing, the long-term effects of each collision.
In the years following his retirement, Scott still possesses the same concerns. Perhaps even scarier to him than the immediate aftermath of the concussion that he suffered in 2009, Scott’s recollection of memorable familial occasions has become blurry.
One episode scared him more than any. Kim and Brandon Scott's birthdays are in September, a week apart, and at a family gathering in 2011, Kim mentioned a surprise party that Bryan had thrown for them years earlier. He had arranged for a car service to pick them up and chauffeur them to the party, the sort of celebration a family cherishes. Hours after the conversation, Bryan called Kim in the middle of the night. You were talking about this party, he told her, but I really don't remember it. Can you refresh my memory? He had forgotten the unforgettable.
Moving forward, Scott is hoping to combat the symptoms that have been a product of his career. Doctors have informed him that he could potentially reverse the effects by maintaining his current, healthy lifestyle, and he takes an anti-aging supplement twice daily that has helped with the mood swings that have resulted. He also plays dominoes with friends and family in an effort to keep his mind sharp.
However, Scott remains wary as to whether he’ll see his health deteriorate because of his time in the NFL.
"I played a child's game for a king's ransom," he said. "By nature, I'm a competitive person. Yes, I did enjoy the game of football. I enjoyed competing. But I'm still fresh. I'm 35. Been out of the league four years. How will I feel at 45? At 55?"
The 6-foot-1, 220 pound Scott played in 10 seasons with the Bills, Falcons, and Saints. The most successful spell of his career came in his six years in Buffalo. His positional versatility saw him play effective stretches at both linebacker and safety. He accumulated 11 interceptions (two of which he returned for touchdowns), 10.5 sacks, 10 forced fumbles and 9 fumble recoveries in 143 games played.