A year after being hospitalized from the same ailment during preseason camp, Notre Dame linebacker Danny Spond has been forced to walk away from football because of hemiplegic migraines. After missing last season’s two opening games as medical experts tried to diagnose Spond’s mysterious ailment, another bout with the crippling headaches during fall camp ended Spond’s career.
“My football playing career is over after suffering another paralyzing migraine early in fall camp,” Spond said in a statement. “I’ve received the best medical treatment and guidance possible. Unfortunately, an exact cause of these migraines remains undetermined, and in order to assure my overall well-being, I’m forced to walk away from the game with an extremely heavy heart.”
Head coach Brian Kelly discussed Spond’s decision to retire from the game as a player over the weekend, but did say he’ll stay around with the team as a student-coach, working with the drop linebackers throughout the season. Notre Dame also released additional information on the rare form of headache with a debilitating effect.
“Hemiplegic migraines are a rare form of headache that present with temporary stroke-like symptoms, such as weakness and slurred speech,” head football team physician Dr. Jennifer Malcolm released in the same statement. “Danny has suffered from a series of these migraines, but with medication, rehabilitation and a positive attitude he should avoid any long-term consequences. As there are no fully reliable predictors of hemiplegic migraines and ultimate prevention is extremely challenging, we fully support Danny.”
Last year, Spond spent time in a local South Bend hospital after his first headache, unable to walk after a collision in practice. First diagnosed as a serious concussion and rumored to be a stroke, Spond spent time seeing specialists from all around the country before he was properly diagnosed. That he suffered another serious migraine during training camp was just too much of a health risk, forcing him to walk away after fighting so valiantly to return last season.
Spond’s departure leaves a hole in the Irish starting lineup, but won’t leave a void in a locker room that won’t lose the senior leader. The Littleton, Colorado native who was a Rockne Scholar Athlete Award recipient gave a statement that showed you the type of person he is, with his faith holding strong as he tackles his latest challenge.
“This has been an incredibly difficult time for me and my family, but by the Grace of God, we can find comfort in His greater plan. Being a man of God and an ambassador for his word, I have come to realize that in times of questioning His plan you have to let go and let God take over, and that is what I am doing. I’ve played this game my entire life, and losing it makes me feel as if I have lost something inside. But I find comfort in knowing my Lord will open the next chapter in my life and fill what’s been taken.
“I want to sincerely, from the bottom of my heart, thank each and every person who has supported me and my career at Notre Dame for their thoughts and prayers. You are the greatest people and fans in this world and make Notre Dame the most righteous University that I could ever represent; I love each and every one of you so very much. I promise to continue to give all I can to this University this year by coaching my position and providing senior leadership in all ways. You may no longer hear my name on the field, but I promise you, this is not the last you will hear of Danny Spond. With God, my family, and Notre Dame, I will persevere to do great things.”