After Second-Impact Syndrome, Kevin Saum’s Podcast Aims To Change Football From The Inside
Kevin Saum shouldn’t be here today. After a severe brain injury and second-impact syndrome, it is almost unheard of to make a full recovery with no disability. Approximately half of people who have gone through what Saum experienced died from their injuries.
Instead, Saum has lived a full life since the injury on a football field that nearly ended his life 11 years ago. He has an undergraduate degree from Rutgers and a Georgetown masters in sports industry management. Perhaps, most surprisingly, Saum is still an avid football fan.
He has worked for the Rutgers football team and interned for the Jets while pursuing his undergraduate degree. At the same time, Saum was getting more involved with health and safety issues in athletics.
All of this culminated three years ago in the Heads ‘N Tales podcast, where Saum explores the personal stories of athletes who have experienced severe injuries like his.
“I was trying to heal myself, to find paths to try,” said Saum, whose only remaining marker of his injury is a scar along the right side of his head. “I’m trying to prevent the suffering for other people.
Each week, Saum and his childhood friend, Josh Boyd – a former Monmouth University football player – discuss the latest events and injuries in professional football. They go in-depth on the biggest collisions, injuries, and penalties throughout the league and discuss how the game could be safer.
However, the pair wants to be clear they aren’t trying to tear down the league or the sport. They would rather change the hearts and minds of the young athletes playing the game. They want to prevent players from sacrificing their own health for the glory of the sport or team.
“I don’t blame football for my injury. I blame the mentality I had as a 17-year-old of sacrificing my body and trying to play through pain,” Saum told USA TODAY. “I never listened to my body, telling me to take a break or sit out because I was so hurt.”
It is this same mentality that often leads players to hide brain injuries or sandbag concussion tests, and it could be argued it is far more problematic than how the league handles injuries as an administrative body.
The podcast is nearing its third anniversary, with 134 episodes to date, but Boyd says it has recently taken on a life of its own.
“It’s [Saum’s] baby pet project that’s become really, really big,” Boyd said. “He enjoys having people tell their stories for the first time, like how he got to tell his story. The more stories like that he can get out, he feels really good about that.”