"“What you didn’t see was the concussion that lasted four months, the days and weeks he spent inside dark rooms, the test he kept failing, the words that got stuck in his mind that his mouth couldn’t spit out,” writes Keefer. “Tyler Varga can tell you about the headaches, the nausea, the dizziness and the doubts. He’ll tell you about the drugs he says the Colts told him to take and why he refused. He’ll tell you why, after all that, he still wants to play football.”"
Varga took the violent hit on special teams during the team’s Week 3 win against the Tennessee Titans. After sitting out the team’s next two games because of concussion-like symptoms, Verga was eventually placed on the team’s injured reserve.
The Colts doctors initially recommended Amantadine–which is sometimes prescribed to treat concussions. However, Varga consulted with his own doctors and refused to take the drug, unwilling to suffer from the potential harmful side effects. 45 minutes later he was notified by the team that he was going to be placed on season-ending injured reserve.
That’s not to say that the Colts are necessarily the “bad guys” here. To a point, the team didn’t want Varga to mess around with this lingering brain injury. In fact, the team ultimately decided to shut him down with the hope that he’d be fully healthy for next season:
"“This is not something to play around with,” Colts general manager Ryan Grigson reportedly told Varga that day. “You should take some time off and get your head better. We’re putting you on injured reserve, and we want you back next year.”"
However, the team’s concussion protocol is apparently far from perfect.
To the outside observer, it seems like the Colts doctors recommended a drug that isn’t universally accepted as a treatment for concussions. Likewise, they didn’t fully inform Varga of the negative side effects. However, in their defense, there are still a lot of unknowns regarding concussions and how to effectively treat them.
Things may have reached a tipping point when in early December, Varga was called upon to participate in an on-the-field workout which included hitting tackling dummies. The former Yale star took a step back in his recovery and ultimately was shut down indefinitely.
That is, until recently.
After taking an internship at the Yale Investments Office for the 3 months following, Varga’s mind began to fully heal. It was the creative and analytical thinking that pushed his brain to regain its prior healthy form.
He is now back on the field, having participated in the team’s late April offseason voluntary workout.
Prior to the injury, Varga had seen a prominent role as a situational 3rd down running back for the team, as well as returning kicks on special teams among his other duties. He had one carry for 2 yards, 1 reception for 18 yards, and 6 kick returns for 151 total kick return yards (25.2 kr avg).
Hopefully, he’s fully healthy now, as he flashed immense potential and was highly productive when given extended playing time in last year’s preseason games.
It’s certainly been a long road to recovery for Varga, so here’s hoping that he can be rewarded on the field with some positive results this upcoming season.