Former Gophers football player Ben Utecht continues to maintain a busy schedule as a passionate advocate for brain disease awareness and research.
Utecht is hosting a fundraiser at TCF Bank Stadium on Nov. 18; he’s collaborating on his memoir; and he auditioned for a role in Will Smith’s upcoming movie “Concussion.”
And he and his wife, Karyn, celebrated the birth of their fourth daughter five months ago.
Utecht’s fundraiser is being held in the locker room at TCF Bank Stadium. Guests will receive a tour of the facility, a catered reception inside the locker room and a full concert by Utecht, who launched his singing career after he retired from football. Former U.S. Vice President Walter Mondale is scheduled to make an appearance.
Money raised through donations from the event goes to the American Brain Foundation. Those interested can RSVP at ABF.convio.net/StandingStrong.
“The mission is to find cures for brain disease,” Utecht said. “You literally are funding research. It’s pretty powerful.”
Utecht, who retired from the NFL after suffering five diagnosed concussions, has experienced memory loss and other effects from his brain injuries.
Utecht is the national spokesperson for the American Academy of Neurology and the American Brain Foundation. He gives speeches around the country, has shared his story with the Senate Committee on Aging in Washington, D.C., and participated in a White House Concussion Summit.
Utecht auditioned for a part in the upcoming movie “Concussion,” but didn’t land the role. The movie is scheduled for release on December 25 and chronicles the story of a neuropathologist who discovered long-term brain trauma in former football players.
“I made it to the final round [of auditions],” Utecht said. “They went with a guy who looked a little bit more like one of the characters in the film. But it was a great experience for me, having never really acted to make it to the director’s audition. That was a really fun experience.”
Utecht also was approached and signed a book deal that is being published by the Howard Books Division of Simon & Schuster.
Utecht is collaborating with New York Times best-selling author Mark Tabb, who wrote the book “Mistaken Identity.”
Utecht is sharing his story about how brain injuries have affected his life post-football. The book is expected be published around start of the 2016 NFL season.
“This is not a finger-pointing book,” he said. “This is about the vulnerability of a player and what his fears are and some of those fears have made me realize what’s important in life.”