HOUSTON -- On Sunday, while his team prepared to face the New York Jets, Houston Texans quarterback Brian Hoyer stayed home. His 3-year-old son, Garrett, wanted to go get donuts, but in his situation Hoyer didn't think that would be the best idea.
He was home recovering from a concussion he suffered six days prior against the Cincinnati Bengals. The gameday atmosphere could have aggravated his symptoms, and he didn't want television shots of him on the sideline to be any sort of distraction.
He was almost fully healed, but not quite there yet. So Hoyer stayed home to watch the game.
"If I was younger I’d be a little more brazen and stupid about it," Hoyer said. "You hear horror stories about people. I went into it, and even my wife was like, 'I’m actually proud of you for dealing with it the way you did.' I was dead serious about it. I gave them fully accurate answers. If we’re going to talk about [concussion safety], players, that’s our responsibility, too."
Hoyer passed the concussion protocol on Monday morning and returned to meetings with his teammates. He practiced for the first time in a week and a half on Wednesday.
This concussion was the fourth he has been diagnosed with while playing football. He suffered one in high school, one in college at Michigan State and one during his rookie year in the NFL.
"It was similar to this," Hoyer said of his high school concussion. "Kept playing. Different kind of reaction. Back then it wasn’t what it is now. Really, I’m thankful for what it is now. Had I kept playing or had I gone back this last week, that’s when -- when they’re really close together, from what I’ve read, that’s when [serious damage occurs]."
There was no headache associated with this concussion. Hoyer didn't feel right and everyone around him could tell. Offensive coordinator George Godsey told coach Bill O'Brien something wasn't right. After the series ended, O'Brien said Hoyer told him he was having trouble remembering plays.
I asked Hoyer if he had any blank spots in his memory from the game. He didn't want to really get into it. He did say he didn't remember the hit that caused the concussion.
"It wasn’t really up to me," Hoyer said of when he left the game. "I think people were aware that I wasn’t really all there. It’s definitely a scary thing."
Hoyer keeps abreast of concussion research. He and his wife both stay informed.
He knew he shouldn't be out there, but part of him still wished he was.
When Cecil Shorts III caught a pass and turned to throw, the camera shot tightened on Shorts. Hoyer nearly lost it because he knew the play called for a touchdown throw to Alfred Blue and he couldn't see if Blue was open.
Garrett is too young right now to understand why his dad was home last Sunday. The kids slept through the Texans' 24-17 win over the Jets while Hoyer tried not to wake them from his excited shouts. Lauren texted him occasionally from another room to keep it down.
"I want him to be happy," Hoyer said. "I want him to be happy, I want him to be safe. He already knows what I do so it’s going to be hard to keep him from it. At least for me I’m educated on it. I’m very educated because I’ve gotten to this level. ...
"You hope that kids in general, if they are playing football, they learn the right way, they learn the techniques. You’d like to see trainers, even at fifth- and sixth-grade games who can identify stuff like that . for me it’s about him being happy and also being safe. He’ll benefit from my knowledge."