GREEN BAY (WITI) — Not much was expected of Dorsey Levens when the Green Bay Packers picked the running back in the fifth round of the 1994 NFL Draft. But “Horse” as he was known, was a Pro-Bowl who gained over 1,400 yards during the 1997 season.
Levens owns a Super Bowl 31 championship ring, and a spot in the Packers Hall of Fame.
“It has been almost 10 years since I’ve been out of the NFL. It seems like it was yesterday. So what do you do?” Levens said.
Levens does a lot, but Packers football will always be a part of his soul, and for a world class competitor, retirement hasn’t been easy.
“That’s what I miss the most: competing. And not just football. I can’t even pick up basketball. I can’t play tennis with my daughter who is 11, just because of the wear and tear my body has taken. That’s what I miss — that competitive, just competing,” Levens said.
Playing for the Pack was a blessing, although at first, Levens may have thought of it as a curse.
“I wouldn’t trade it for anything, and the ironic thing is that when my agent asked me where I wanted to play, I told him anywhere but Green Bay, because it’s just too cold, and I was trying to get out of the cold weather,” Levens said.
Like most athletes, Levens misses the camaraderie in the locker room the most.
“You become a family. You spend more time with your teammates than you do with your real family,” Levens said.
When Levens left the game, he was 34. He had opportunities in broadcasting, and then in the movies. He had a bit role in the movie “We Are Marshall.”
Levens had a bigger role in the soon-to-be released movie Gridiron UK, which was filmed in England.
But the biggest role for the former Packers star turned actor, producer and writer is a documentary on concussions called “Bell Rung.”
As a former player, the research left Levens alarmed.
“The doctor said every time you get your ‘bell rung,’ that’s a concussion. I said ‘doctor that can’t be right,’ because that happens so often. For me, it was like four or five times a game as a running back,” Levens said.
Today, the NFL is taking far greater precautions with concussions. There are fewer padded practices with actual hitting. That wasn’t the case when Levens played in the league.
“Nobody comes out of the game if you get your bell rung. The only time you come out of the game is if you’re laying on the field unconscious,” Levens said.
Levens was the special guest at a concussion awareness and safety event hosted by Froedtert and the Medical College of Wisconsin, along with Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. Dr. Michael McCrea is a Professor of Neurology and Director of Brain Research at the Medical College, and is also on the NFL’s Head, Neck and Spine Committee.
Words such as Dr. McCrea’s are music to the ears of a man who knows what it’s like to repeatedly have his bell rung.