INDIANAPOLIS -- NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. takes pride that he was able rehab from his concussion and feels fortunate to return to racing in 2017.
So he can relate to Michael Oher, the offensive tackle who was released Thursday by the Carolina Panthers after failing a physical. Oher has not played since the third game of the 2016 season because of a concussion.
Earnhardt talked to Oher in February as both were being treated by doctors at the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program in Pittsburgh. Earnhardt missed the final 18 races of the 2016 NASCAR season as he dealt with vision and balance issues, including having problems focusing on an object in the distance while moving his head.
“His situation and mine were kind of similar in what we dealt with as far as symptoms and so forth,” Earnhardt said Saturday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “That was a reason why I think they wanted me and him to chat a little bit, because it really helps to hear from someone going through it. There is nothing more frustrating than trying to talk to somebody about concussions that hasn’t had one.
“I wasn’t bothered by him getting released. The only thing that it made me think about was is that it’s a shame that he is not healthy yet and that hopefully he continues to take the time.”
Oher tweeted earlier this week that he was headed to see Dr. Micky Collins, the same doctor who treated Earnhardt. Oher also tweeted: “The Brain is a scary thing. You have to be careful with it.”
“He is seeing the right people in Pittsburgh, and … I’m glad that he is still persistent and following their orders and getting in front of the right folks,” Earnhardt said. “That is all you can do. He just needs to take the time necessary. I don’t think football should be anything that he is probably thinking about right now.
“And he might not even care about football right at this moment. He might just want to do whatever he needs to do to get well.”
Earnhardt hasn’t talked to Oher since February, saying that he wouldn’t want to interject himself into Oher’s business. Oher, whose life story was the basis for the movie “The Blind Side,” had spent the last two seasons with Carolina after five years with Baltimore and one with Tennessee.
“Certainly, going through that experience changes your priorities,” Earnhardt said. “He certainly seems to be making the right choices for himself if he is up there seeing Micky and still pursuing what he needs to do get well.
“I’m there to support him or anyone else really going through that situation.”