CARLSBAD, Calif. — Jaguars linebacker Russell Allen thought he had his bell rung against the Bills in Week 15 last season. He played through the injury and double vision, but two days later found out he’d suffered a stroke on the field. A dead spot in his brain means he’ll never play football again.
The Jaguars linebacker confronted this reality last Thursday, sitting on the beige sectional in the living room of his home in San Diego’s northern suburbs. It was 9 a.m. in California and noon in Jacksonville, when his agent called with the dreadful news Allen had expected for months: The one-time rookie free agent had been cut after five NFL seasons. The Jaguars announced Allen’s release along with three other cuts, listing the official reason as a failed physical. But this was no ordinary roster move.
Coach Gus Bradley would call Allen to tell him how sorry he was—and that he would always be a Jaguar. General manager David Caldwell also would reach out to express his condolences. As the news sunk in, Allen’s wife, Ali, whispered instructions to their 2-year-old son. Parker did as he was told, running over to his father and telling him he did “a good job playing football.” Allen, 27, burst into tears.
In the back of the brain, the cerebellum tells the body how to walk, run and even crawl. It might also play a role in discerning happiness and fear, but the medical science isn’t exactly sure. What doctors are sure of, however, is that Russell has a spot on his cerebellum, no bigger than a dime, that is dead.
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