The Adam Ingle Story — Write Your Own Ending

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On September 23, at, I linked to the television news report about the near-fatal traumatic brain injury suffered by Adam Ingle, a 17-year-old Kansas high school player, a week earlier.

Anthony Powell, the reporter for KSN (NBC 3) in Wichita, has an update at

Below is a post I wrote last Thursday. I had been holding off on publishing it until Burl Ingle, Adam’s father, had a chance to review it via email. But with the crush of more urgent matters for him and his wife — the first of which, of course, is continuing to supervise Adam’s convalescence and rehabilitation — Mr. Ingle has not had a chance to get back to me. I’ve decided to go ahead and put the piece online. I truly do not believe the Ingle family will be offended by it, and if I turn out to be wrong about that, I will reflect their views in future posts.

Irv Muchnick


Today I had a long telephone conversation with Burl Ingle. My immediate interest was confirming the story, not yet fully reported in the media, that the incident in the Valley Center-Andover game was actually Adam’s second head injury in four days — he was also concussed, and briefly lost consciousness, in practice the previous Tuesday. I’ll get to that. But I also want to tell the whole story from Mr. Ingle’s perspective. He and I appreciate that we have a difference of opinion on the viability of youth football. Where we agree is that our disagreement is respectful and that it sheds light on the issue’s cultural fault line.

The traumatic brain injury at Tuesday’s practice, described above, did indeed happen. Burl Ingle said the first he knew of it was when Adam told doctors and nurses at the emergency room Friday night. Adam — who used to get up at 5 a.m. to lift weights, and who prided himself on playing hurt — never informed coaches or trainers, who didn’t witness the blackout. After thoroughly looking into everything, Mr. Ingle is convinced that there was no negligence on anyone’s part. It was just one of those things that happen in football. His takeaway is that the sport simply needs better communication among players, parents, and coaches, and a less macho ethic.

Mr. Ingle accepts the bigger picture. He has other sons who have played college ball, one at Clemson, as well as a brother who played briefly for the Dallas Cowboys. “We’re a football family,” Mr. Ingle said. “And Adam is in God’s hands.”

When he collapsed on the field in the third quarter against Andover, Adam turned blue, obviously suffering from a brain bleed that required emergency surgery. The doctors saved his life, and now he is the midst of a long, slow recovery. Home after a week of hospitalization, he has little stamina. (When I spoke with his father, the neuropsychologist had just paid a visit, but they had to cut it off after 15 minutes.) He can’t yet hold down any food. But he can walk, and he expects to attend this Friday’s game. He has been nominated for homecoming king.

I wouldn’t want to be the campaign manager for anyone else on the ballot.

Adam’s dream of a football career is over. However, Butler County Junior College has already stepped up to offer him a full scholarship to be the football team’s equipment manager. Mr. Ingle said that when this normally stoic young man got the news, he smiled from ear to ear, then cried for the first time since all this happened.

So … Does this add up to another cautionary tale of the insanity of football? Or another thread of the American tapestry?

You decide.

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Concussion Inc. - Author Irvin Muchnick