Despite last week’s multimillion-dollar settlement with retired players, head injuries continue to be a major issue for the NFL. In an interview on Saturday with the New York Post, Pam Oliver revealed that even those who cover the game aren’t immune from its dangerous effects.
On Aug. 18, the Fox NFL sideline reporter was hit in the face by a stray pass from Colts backup quarterback Chandler Harnish. Because videos of people getting hit in the head with things are never not funny, the clip quickly went viral and Oliver soldiered on, continuing to work the sidelines for the duration of the game.
However, Oliver told the Post that her ordeal was no laughing matter; the football to the face resulted in a concussion.
According to the story, Oliver was on the field after having interviewed referee Ed Hochuli for a story scheduled to air on “60 Minutes Sports.” After being hit with the ball, Oliver returned to the sidelines in a daze.
“I asked the people around me, ‘What happened?’” she told the Post. “They told me I just got hit in the head with a football.”
Oliver said that on the car ride home from the game, her headache progressed from slight to severe. The next morning, she said her head was hurting so badly she had to hold it and that her whole body was sore. A CT Scan at the doctor’s office came back negative but she was diagnosed with a concussion. The next five days were spent at home inside a dark room.
“I slept for hours on end,” she said. “The minute you wake up you’re reminded. Your head is pounding. I really could not take light — the light from the TV, the accent lighting. The sun was completely my enemy. My blinds were drawn. It was miserable.”
Oliver’s story is notable not only for the candor with which she opens up about an embarrassing incident but also for the details she provides about the scary world of those suffering from concussion symptoms. NFL players almost never speak about the immediate effects of similar head injuries, for reasons both professional and personal.
“Players don’t want to be reminded about their concussions,” she said. “They don’t want to be known as the guy who went down with one. They downplay it. Then it happens to me and I start wondering how these guys go back to being hit, taking all that punishment, a week or two later.”
In spite of the injury, Oliver doesn’t plan on taking extra precautions when she returns to the sidelines to work her week one assignment, Green Bay versus San Francisco.
“I’ll do what I always do: Stay a bit behind the line of scrimmage. And keep my head on a swivel.”