Ben Utecht to Senate: 'It Took Losing My Mind to Care About My Mind'

The Super Bowl winner testified to the US Senate about his concussion history.
7:54 | 06/25/14

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Transcript for Ben Utecht to Senate: 'It Took Losing My Mind to Care About My Mind'
I have never in my life seen so many flashing lights. I mean it. It would rival the experience of Neil Armstrong it it truly felt like I was dancing. With the stars. It was the greatest experience in my life. We won the game 29 to seventeen and and forever I will be able to Wear this ring on my finger in remembrance of that -- There was a dream come true. Two years later. That dream is shattered. When I woke up face down. On a training camp field in Georgetown Kentucky being strapped to a board. And put -- ambulance. Because of my -- documented concussions. For the first time in my life. My -- my brain became. A priority. And the reason why became a priority is because between nine years old -- started to have memory problems. And it took. Losing my mind. -- terrible. Former NFL tight end and Super Bowl champion and -- -- Speaking to the senate special committee on aging about his experience with concussions. Hello I'm Michelle Brandt and in New York -- -- played six NFL seasons with Indianapolis and Cincinnati before retiring in 2009. He's been an advocate for traumatic brain injury awareness -- -- with more now from Washington we're joined by Meredith shiner from Yahoo! News. Meriden state -- -- brain injuries and diseases of aging as the name of today's hearing. Which senators are leading the line here and who's working hard to get this issue in the headlines. Close -- the hearing to. They was hosted by the senate special committee on aging that's chaired by Bill Nelson of Florida. -- the -- member Susan Collins of Maine but you've also seen senator Dick Durbin who's the number two senate Democrats. Hold several hearings particularly from his perch on the -- Judiciary Committee. On this concussions issue obviously it's. Increased in prominence as more and more former NFL players are talking about the experiences the traumatic experiences -- That they're going through and their post playing career and I think one of the biggest issues. Is the kind of health care guarantees that are insured to these players -- is not only are a lot of people who go through. Playing amateur football not going to get the sort of salaries that -- -- -- -- dad but there are very few salary guarantees in the NFL and so. -- you know mid level to lower level player the kind of medical bills that they can a crew are astronomical and -- I think that's why you're seeing. This issue. Getting more attention but also getting more Washington's attention I mean remember the hearings on steroids in baseball when there are certain. Terrible issues that are are affecting our athletes I think you -- congress weighing in particularly because. The -- that that profit off of these players make so much money. And so there's a fact fiduciary interests for that and to have the most entertaining product on the field but congress has an interest. In trying to sort of regulate the for the treatment in behavior of those leaks and Meredith -- tech was brought. And -- let's listen to -- -- speaking about it symptoms. My memories began to fade away in fact 11 story I've shared is going home to Minneapolis and spend time with friends. Of -- my wife and I sitting around a table. And it. Net brought up hit my friend brought up his wedding and I I civil I wasn't able to be there -- -- the strangest look from him. In the -- got quiet and his wife brought over their photo. Album from their wedding and page after page. There was as the -- -- in his wedding. And sing a song and his -- And I have no memory of that experience it's completely gone. Meredith separate from what's happening on the hill but not unrelated. The NFL in court today agreed to remove the cap on the amount of money it would potentially payout to former players with concussion related claims. What do we know about this deal and has become a talking point in DC. So. Originally there was a settlement agreement of some where close to seven -- and 65. Million dollars but a judge -- in court rejected that number. For fear that the claims would be worth a lot more so it's unclear that the -- -- -- choice in this matter. Particularly -- -- -- -- acknowledged that a settlement needed to exist. Such remove that cap I think was significant because it was an acknowledgment. Of what they had already previously. Position themselves to do which was to settle -- some of these players but I think that there is just a widespread. Anxiety but also just. And acceptance that that number is going to be larger at the top of the hearing. Chairman Nelson did mention that this was a settlement. And then that was reintroduce and that -- had conceded on this point and so I think that that is absolutely going to spur more action -- -- I think it's. It symbolizes a concession from the NFL that there was an issue and that they were culpable in making that if she works. -- NFL after some prodding senate's own health experts to Capitol Hill earlier this year any of their folks there to day. And any word at all from the -- So most of -- witnesses today were from independent research organizations that have been leading the way in terms of finding no more evidence of -- widespread. Nature. Of concussions in sports there's and specific division -- Boston University which is one of the reasons why you saw senator Elizabeth Warren. Introduce. One of the witnesses today and they've really been spearheading the research and there was a PBS Frontline program. Which -- originally been produced in conjunction with the SP and but that yes -- and had had backed out of earlier this year and was based. And significantly I think on the research that happened in the UN by researchers who are independent of the -- out in California. But also spoke at a lot about pro stars heard from a number of them now but a lot of the discussion. Seems to be about younger generations as well what lawmakers do in their estimation. To legislate somebody's safety measures one I think the issue is as -- starting to see evidence of mental decay. In in kids and in brains of high schoolers who have died. Who had played football. So you what you saw the president the United States a few weeks ago introduce an initiative in partnerships with -- -- -- found the NCAA. These corporate. And federal government partnerships that are worth billions and millions of dollars excuse me to conduct more research to make sure that we have a Fuller grasp of the scope of these issues. But I think that it's going to have to be a cultural change. When you look acts -- FL games and NCAA football games hard hits are at a premium because -- make. The highlight packages the next day and so how we teach children how to tackle how people who are trained to teach them how to tackle get training themselves. I think all of those issues are going to be significant it's going to be a combination. Of continuing to advance the science that researches. Brain injury but also implementing that kind of cultural change that will make playing these games safer while people can still enjoy them Meredith shiner. With Yahoo! News thank you very much for joining us thank you for having me. This has been an ABC news digital special report keep up with this story in real time. By downloading the ABC news -- starring this story for exclusive updates on the -- For now I'm Michelle Franzen in New York.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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