“If I’d only known that what I loved the most would end up killing me and taking away everything I loved, I would have never done it.” —Grant Feasel, just weeks before his death in 2012
Unless you’re a longtime Seattle Seahawks fan of a certain age, you’ve never heard of Grant Feasel.
After playing college football at Abilene Christian University, Grant was a starting center and long snapper for the Seattle Seahawks from 1987 to 1992 after starting his pro football career with the old Baltimore Colts in 1983.
While playing 117 games in the National Football League, Grant was just another anonymous offensive lineman who toiled in the trenches, banging up his battered body with every snap of the ball.
As his wife, Cyndy, shares on the pages of After the Cheering Stops, those jarring collisions with powerful nose guards took their toll on Grant in physical, mental, and spiritual ways.
That’s because Grant drank to dull the pain that began in his brain—a brain muddled by a history of repetitive trauma and symptomatic concussions. He drank and drank . . . until the alcohol killed him.
Grant’s death certificate lists “ESLD” (end-stage liver disease, a form of cirrhosis of the liver) as the cause of his demise, but his family later learned that he also suffered from a degenerative brain disease known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, which has been the focus of lawsuits from former NFL players and the topic of a Hollywood movie, Concussion, starring Will Smith.
In After the Cheering Stops, Cyndy Feasel describes how Grant’s attempts at self-medicating his pain devastated their family but also left her with a mission to raise awareness about CTE and head trauma injuries in sports as well as educate athletes and parents about the potential damage of that head injuries can cause.
Cyndy also has a redemptive message to share about how she and Grant made amends just weeks before he died. While he lay in his hospital bed, his life slowly ebbing away, Cyndy planted a light kiss on his cheek and released the man she loved.
Cyndy believes that Grant would be cheering her on to share his story as a cautionary tale of what can happen when you play a sport you love but has inherent risks that wreak physical damage.