According to a Wednesday report from Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network, Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields has now confirmed to NFL teams during the pre-draft process that he is managing epilepsy — a neurological disorder that can cause seizures. A report followed the initial one stating that Fields’ epilepsy issues have not affected the young quarterback on the field to date, and that other family members of his dealing with it have outgrown their issues with it in their 20s. After that report surfaced, former Steelers Hall of Fame guard Alan Faneca took to Twitter to offer Fields some encouraging words.
Faneca tweeted, “If I did it, so can @justnfields, and so can anyone else. It is part of us, but does not define us! #epilepsy#neverstopdreaming.”
Faneca certainly does know from experience as he reportedly was just 15 years old when he experienced his first seizure. He thought it was just a nightmare at first, however.
“I see a pinwheel of spinning colors coming out of the left side of my field of vision,” he explains. “When the seizure kicks in, I’m running around; I’m panicked like I’m late for the biggest meeting of my life.”
As the story goes, pediatric neurologist diagnosed Faneca with partial-onset seizures and when that happened the then-teenage athlete feared he’d be benched because of his condition.
“We thought football was off-limits,” Faneca is on record as saying. “But the doctor was completely behind my continuing to play.”
Faneca started taking medication to control his seizures and thus was able to continue playing football that included him having a stellar career at LSU and then going on to play 13 seasons in the NFL after being drafted in the first round by the Steelers in 1998.
Not only did Faneca have a great NFL career, but he also only missed one game in 13 seasons due to an injury.
Faneca is now a big advocate for creating epilepsy awareness for and is always willing to help families who are dealing with the illness or any other kind of neurological disorder.
As for Fields and his situation, the prognosis from doctors is that he should essentially be fine. His symptoms have reportedly become shorter and less frequent over the past few years.
“Justin’s health, toughness and work ethic have never been an issue and I am incredibly proud of his professionalism and the character he displays on and off the field,” Ohio State head coach Ryan Day stated in a tweet on Wednesday. “The fact that he never missed a game at Ohio State speaks volumes about how he takes care of himself.”