Notre Dame lost outside linebacker Danny Spond during fall camp after recurring issues with severe migraine headaches forced the senior to make the difficult to decision to walk away from the game.
Spond had never suffered from migraines until he had one so debilitating that he suffered stroke-like symptoms last year during fall camp. After a stay in the hospital and meetings with several doctors, the Colorado native returned and became a key contributor during last season’s BCS Championship run, taking over the starting Drop linebacker job and running with it.
But after suffering three hemiplegic migraines in the span of a year, Spond decided to retire from football, a decision he didn’t make easily. He finally spoke about the decision with UND.com.
“I would have rather just had my head torn off than have it attached during those moments,” Spond told UND.com when describing the pain he felt during the migraines. “I couldn’t see. My whole left side of my body was completely numb. I can’t open my eyes. My speech gets slurred. When I smile, only half of my face smiles. I lose control of my left arm. I lose control of my left leg. I wouldn’t wish any of it on my worst enemy.”
Spond was set to return at outside linebacker and be a key anchor to the defense when he was struck with another headache in camp. The injury was crippling — he was still using a cane to walk at practice a week after the incident.
Ultimately, Spond met again with neurologists in Ann Arbor and continually with doctors at Notre Dame, trying to find a solution for a rare headache that can trigger eplieptic seizures, stroke-like symptoms and even a coma. In the end, it just didn’t make sense for him to continue putting himself at risk.
Spond talked about the difficult decision to tell Bob Diaco and Brian Kelly he was retiring and the emotions that came with telling his teammates.
“I had tears in my eyes and a lot of guys came up to me with tears in their eyes as well,” Spond told UND.com. “It just showed me how much support I have. It really was a testament to the university. That’s why Notre Dame is the most special and honorable place to play football in the country.”