Ex-Gophers TE Utecht wins settlement against NFL over concussion


Remember Ben Utecht? The former Hastings High School football star and four-year starter for the Gophers was awarded the remainder of his salary from his last season in the NFL, before a concussion suffered during training camp in 2009 ended his professional career.

The 32-year-old won an injury grievance case against the Cincinnati Bengals, after an arbitrator ruled in his favor earlier this week. He’ll reportedly receive a total of $926,471.

"The arbitrator ruled Utecht should not have been cleared by the Bengals given that he “had not been sufficiently tested, both in his aerobic and strength reconditioning program, nor had he been tested in sport-specific activities, which would be a more accurate means of determining whether the damage caused by the concussion had ‘cleared.’"

Utecht played in the NFL for five years, from 2004 to 2008 and recorded 87 receptions for 923 yards and three touchdowns. He won a Super Bowl with the Indianapolis Colts in 2007 and signed with the Bengals following that season as a restricted free agent.

"Three years later, my family and I have closure with the successful conclusion of my contract dispute,” Utecht said in a statement released on his behalf by the NFLPA. “We are grateful for the support we have received from all of our friends in professional football and beyond. I will continue to help the NFL in any way I can to educate people about brain safety and the seriousness of this issue."

Following his retirement, Utecht turned to music and is now a well-respected singer in Nashville.

Follow Gold and Gopher on Twitter | Follow Frank Bi on Twitter