According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Ohio State University’s former quarterback Justin Fields recently shared with prospective NFL teams that he is dealing with epilepsy. It is unclear how that revelation will affect his standing in the 2021 draft. Right now, the 2019 Heisman Trophy finalist remains a top prospect and is expected to go as high as the 7th pick per the latest consensus mock draft from CBS Sports, ESPN, and NFL Media.
There is no singular known explanation for epilepsy, and various causes of epilepsy have been suggested, including a stroke, a brain infection, or fetal hypoxia. Furthermore, heritability has been shown to exist, and there is currently no cure for epilepsy, but early treatment can significantly reduce its effects. In fact, as many as 6 out of 10 children who have epilepsy have been found to outgrow the condition, which is what Rapoport says Fields’ doctors also believe.
However, as was noted in a Bleacher Report article from 2018, Fields was in high school when his half-sister Kennedy suddenly passed away from the condition. Kennedy was 21 at the time of her death, which is one year younger than Fields is today.
Nevertheless, Fields has not missed one game during his college career due to epilepsy, he says he continues to manage it closely, and it is promising that there have been other pro footballers with epilepsy who managed to have fruitful careers.
Just one month ago, the 6-foot-3, 228-pound QB put up some respectable numbers at the 2021 NFL Scouting Combine, attaining the highest SPARQ rating among all quarterbacks at this year’s event (120.03). According to ESPN Stats & Information data, his 40-yard-dash time of 4.44 seconds was also the second-fastest ever recorded for quarterbacks in combine history, according to ESPN Stats & Information data. “But, you know, other than that, I thought I threw pretty well,” he told the media in attendance. “I thought I just had a few missed throws, but that happens. Not everybody is going to be perfect.”