134 : We Talkin' About Practice? Life After Football w/ Troy Martino

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Troy Martino played tight end for Stevenson University until he suffered a career-ending head injury during a non-contact spring practice after a successful freshman season.  Troy is a fellow Rutgers Sports Management graduate and although it seems as though to our transition to life after football was similar, in many ways it was also very different. In this episode we are going to compare and contrast what worked for us and what didn’t in our transition to life after football to prevent you from some of the suffering we experienced.


Below are some topics Troy and I cover throughout this interview:

  • What led up to the career ending head injury.
  • The“flashy drill” that led to Troy being in the wrong place wrong time.
  • What doctors said after diagnosing Troy with a depressed skull fracture on the left temporal bone.

“One of the first things that I heard when I woke up was you’ll never play football again.” 

  • Why Troy was okay with hanging up the cleats after the injury.
  • What went into the decision to not surgically repair his skull fracture.
  • The struggle of not being able to workout during recovery from an injury like this.
  • Why Troy decided to transfer to Rutgers University.
  • Troy's transition to Rutgers and the challenges he was presented with (academically and socially).

“I had to reteach myself how to learn.”

  • Immersing himself into the Rutgers social scene without the football identity.
  • The importance of getting involved with things at school after losing a sport.
  • Why an injury in high school made him know he wanted to play football in college.
  • Why he felt empty watching Rutgers football games (only watched one game).
  • The value in talking to a therapist.
  • The value of playing smart vs. playing “tough."
  • Troy's thoughts on health & safety in football.
  • How the injury changed him as a person.
  • How Troy was able to combat amblyopia (born with a blind eye) and play football at a high level.

“Work at it like you worked at the sport you played your whole life.”




Download Episode 134 : iTunes | Stitcher 

133 : What I Would Say To My 17-Year-Old Self, "Treat Your Body Like You Treat Your Car"

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A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to share my story on the Morris Sussex Sports podcast and I enjoyed my experience so much I wanted to post it here for you guys too.  I feel this episode is a good measure of my personal growth over the last three years from serving as host of this podcast and absorbing the wisdom taught by my guests.  One of the questions I was asked in this interview was "what would you say to your 17 year old self?" I gave this question some more thought after I began putting this post together because I don't think I would have listened to me or anyone at that age. So I thought of a way to phrase it that may have penetrated my extremely thick skull (no pun intended).

"Treat your body like you treat your car."

A few months ago I leased a new truck.  Before getting this truck I had only ever had one vehicle and that was a 2005 Toyota 4Runner that has been with me throughout all the ups and downs my injury and life dealt me.  I wanted to share the pictures below to show how far I have come since October 5th, 2007.  



The picture above was taken by my mother on a Friday morning before what was (I'm guessing) our first game of the season in my senior year playing for the West Morris Central Wolfpack.  No smile, backwards hat, black socks (I thought they made me look more athletic), exuding what I thought was "toughness" at the time.  However, this definition of toughness, with a focus on physicality and masculinity was a fleeting bar to base my self-worth on. There was always going to be someone who was bigger, stronger, faster and more athletic than me. Unfortunately I was willing to lay it all on the line to prove the impossible, which was that I was the "toughest" guy on the field. Who was I trying to prove this to? Why did I care? I still can't quite answer that, but I know the quest cut my football career much shorter than anticipated.



This picture was taken a few months ago just before I drove off the lot in a new truck. This is the same vehicle I stood in front of 11 years (holy hell) earlier just with a different license plate, a lot cleaner windows and about 140,000 extra miles.  This is also the same guy standing in front of the car, just with a few more battle scars, longer hair and an eyeglass prescription. However, thanks to the wisdom I gained from my podcast guests and a fully developed frontal lobe, I measure my self worth much differently today than I did in the first picture.

Toughness is actually a lot like buying a new car.  There will always be cars that are bigger, faster, flashier or my luxurious than yours.  Unfortunately, you can't control what other people choose to buy or modify on their cars.  The only thing you can control is how you take care of and drive your vehicle. If I took care of my own body like I took care of my 4 Runner over the last 11 years, there is no doubt I would have played football in college. I regularly changed the oil, didn't drive aggressively, gave it rest for a couple years in college and washed all the salt off during harsh New Jersey winters.  When something was feeling off with the car, I addressed it. If all athletes treated their bodies like they did their cars, I am sure they could add at least 11 years onto their careers too.

We all know a squirrel-lover or two who swerve all-over the road to miss their furry little friend.  I think the risk of swerving outweighs the benefit of missing the squirrel in most cases, but I hope people attempt to avoid deer and other large animals that cross their paths because of the destruction it can do to both your vehicle and the animal.  If I treated my body like I did my car I would have done anything I could to avoid contact. However, I took the opposite approach in football and tried to hit everything in sight because I thought it made me "tough." That mentality when translated to behind the wheel is like seeing the biggest deer in the history of all deer and driving your vehicle right into it. Who would do that? The major difference between a car and your body is that cars are replaceable, your life and body aren't.  What good is a broken Ferrari anyway? What good are you to your team when you're hurt?  Treat your body like the asset that it is.  You are only given one brain, heart, set of shoulders, and knees. How long they last is up to you.

I traded my 4 Runner in for a Ford F-150. Ford's slogan for their line of trucks is "Built Ford Tough" for their reputation of being long lasting and dependable.  It doesn't matter what car or truck you buy. If you beat the crap out of your car and don't take care of it, it is not going to be long lasting or dependable.  Prove your toughness through your dependability. There is only one way to do that and that is by taking care of yourself. You control your toughness.

Below is a list of conversation topics I touch on throughout this episode:

  • Why I am not anti football.
  • What it was like playing football growing up in Long Valley.
  • Talking about the glory days.
  • How the tough guy complex worked against me.
  • What led up to second impact syndrome.
  • How my athletic trainer saved my life.
  • The aftermath of the Second Impact Syndrome.
  • The Evolution of the Heads ‘N Tales podcast.
  • The true definition of toughness.
  • What I would say to my 17 year old self.

Download Episode 133 : iTunes | Stitcher 

132 : Navigating Concussion Recovery - A Personal & Clinical Perspective w/ Molly Parker DPT

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Molly Parker is a physical therapist that has had post concussion syndrome and a sensorimotor disorder for 7 years. She has seen over 70 healthcare providers and spent thousands of hours researching. She says that she did everything wrong and got worse for over 4+ years and is now trying to prevent you from making the same mistakes when it comes to your recovery from PCS! She believes that she has finally figured out how to harness the power of neuroplasticity and is hopeful for a second chance at life for herself and you! 

“I honestly felt really lucky, I felt like I walked away with only a concussion.”

Below are some topics we touch on throughout this interview:

  • The story of how getting hit by a cab back in 2011 changed Molly's life.
  • How her background and network as a PT at the time of her accident influenced her recovery (negatively).
  • Immediate symptoms included : “legs felt like they were broken,” dizzy, disoriented, headache.
  • Why Molly kept pushing through her symptoms.
  • How the development of a sensory motor affected her recovery.
  • Long-term severe symptoms included : difficulty completely normal day-to-day tasks, which eventually got to the point where she wasn’t able to care for herself anymore.
  • Why it took two years to get an official diagnosis that her symptoms were concussion-related.
  • How the symptoms eventually led to her losing her dream job.
  • The similarity between career ending injuries in athletes and Molly’s experience with losing her job.

“Everything I worked hard for had come to fruition and then I slowly started to lose it all.”

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  • Molly's frustration in searching for answers especially from her peers in PT.
  • Conversation with Dr. Nancy Byl that led her in the right direction and significantly improved her symptoms.
  • The connection between her vestibular symptoms and her sensory motor disorder.
  • The treatments that helped her the most in her recovery.
  • Movement Disorders Program at UCLA 
  • Dr. Alyssa Elder and Dr. Allan Wu were the PT/neurologist team from UCLA.
  • Physical therapy for a sensory motor disorder and how they used sensory motor re-learning
  • The emotional toll PCS had on her and coping strategies.
  • Why Molly recommends seeing a psychologist during your recovery from PCS.

“I just had to let go of that blueprint of how my life was supposed to be.”

  • What neuroplasticity is and why you should never lose hope.
  • The importance of finding a treatment team for your PCS and where to start your search.
  • Money saving tips for medical bills.
  • Nutrition’s role in PCS.
  • The role of sleep in recovery and sleep hygiene tips.
  • Advice for family members.
  • How you know when you are in the clear.
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Download Episode 132 : iTunes | Stitcher