By Benjamin “BJ” Catalon
My name is Benjamin “BJ” Catalon III. I was born and raised in Houston, TX. From the time I was a child, football was always my go-to and it was a dream of mine to reach the NFL. I received a full scholarship to play running back at Texas Christian University, where I excelled on the football field and in the classroom. I received my first concussion during the spring of my freshman year, my second during my sophomore season and my third the following year. My last concussion was devastating and caused me to miss the last five games of the season. I sought after the NFL even after team doctors suggested I end my career. The NFL was dealing with many lawsuits and consequences surrounding concussions and CTE, so although some teams gave me a look, I was never handed a real opportunity. I wrote this poem to share my story and help someone else out there battling these issues and struggling to fulfill a dream they once had.
I smile a lot, but I’m afraid. I laugh but I’m terrified, I can’t differ the truth from all the lies. To chase a dream, where you hear the fans scream, stands filled with jerseys of ya damn team. A man’s game, a man’s pain, sacrifice my all, why should I feel this shame? War scene, you’re a friend to me battling against our enemy, armor shield body guard, but my head is losing memory.
Never forget the memories of this wonderful sport, even if I’m older and all out of sort, inches away but came up short. What’s going on inside my head? Who are the voices I hear? I try to imagine but the images disappear. Search through iCloud, but nothing’s quite clear, is this something for me to fear? Don’t complain ‘cause men are tough, life is hard, the game is rough, the crazy thoughts, my brain is stuffed, is this God’s Plan, I need an angel’s touch, left behind, I was just angel's dust.
This must be a mistake, I was meant to be great, losing my balance due to this shifted weight, stumble sometimes and can’t walk straight. Even though it’s for protection, my mind is like a weapon, I believe my whole life that this was my blessing; so why the rejection or the feelings of severe despondency and dejection. In other words it’s depressin’, to play the game my whole life and finally get taught the lesson. Not afraid to fail, not afraid to lose, didn’t know the scars would still bruise. I smile, inside me is still that little child, whose joy I haven’t felt in a while.
Round and Round, my head pounds the sound, of my heartbreak as my head mounds the ground. Telling me I’m up next and couldn’t be more closer, Doctors visit just to tell me that it’s over, tried to cry but I was given no shoulder, missing old days cause I hate getting older. I smile a lot, but I’m afraid. I laugh but I’m terrified, it’s something going on with what’s between my eyes.