NFL quarterback Justin Fields and epilepsy

  • August 15, 2023
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Justin Fields and epilepsy

Justin Fields is one of the NFL's most exciting young players. In his pro career so far, the Chicago Bears quarterback has achieved some impressive feats, including being one of only three NFL quarterbacks to rush for 1000 yards in a season, and twice being named the Graham-George offensive player of the year. On top of all that, he also managed to fit in a degree in financial services from Ohio State. And Justin also happens to have epilepsy.

Justin Fields’ epilepsy was first made public in 2022, when he decided to speak to ESPN about his journey with the condition during National Epilepsy Awareness Month. Let's learn more about Justin Fields' epilepsy.

Justin Fields’ life and NFL career so far

Born March 5 1999, Justin is still early in his career, but he has already achieved a lot:

  • Justin was born and raised in Kennesaw, GA
  • He attended Harrison High School in Kennesaw where he played quarterback for the school team
  • In 2017, Justin committed to the University of Georgia, with his freshman season beginning in 2018
  • In late 2018, Justin moved to Ohio State, where he had major successes, including leading the Buckeyes to an undefeated regular season, and winning the Big Ten Championship
  • In 2021, he was selected by the Chicago Bears where, among other things, he set the team’s single-season rushing yards records

Does Justin Fields have epilepsy?

Yes, Justin chose to share details of his condition in late 2022. In an ESPN interview, he explained that he had his first seizure at the age of 15 during a health class at high school. Following a series of tests, he was diagnosed with the neurological condition.

Epilepsy appears to run in Justin's family. His mother had the condition when she was a teenager, although her seizures stopped when she was 19.

Learn more: Is epilepsy genetic?

When his epilepsy was first diagnosed, Justin told ESPN his greatest fear was how it might affect his ability to play football. Fortunately, his seizures are controlled by medication, and the condition hasn’t affected his career. 

Related: 5 NFL players with epilepsy

How is Justin Fields managing epilepsy?

Justin says that he manages his epilepsy by taking anti seizure medication every day. When he takes his medication, he is able to keep his condition under control. This is evidenced by the fact that he has never missed a game because of epilepsy in his career so far. He told ESPN that the last time he had a seizure was before the draft. 

Having a neurological condition as a professional football player is of course a consideration when it comes to selection. But the fact his seizures are well controlled by medication means it hasn’t been a major issue.

Exercise: Can you exercise with epilepsy?

Raising awareness of epilepsy

In his interview with ESPN, Justin said he wanted to speak out about his epilepsy to raise awareness, challenge stigma and inspire others, saying it was about: “bringing more awareness and then also giving those kids hope”. 

Alan Faneca, an NFL legend who also has epilepsy tweeted his support when he heard about Justin Fields’ epilepsy, writing: “If I did it, so can @justnfields, and so can anyone else. It is part of us, but does not define us!”. 

Read our interview with Alan Faneca

Epilepsy can be a challenging condition, but Justin Fields’ epilepsy story shows that many people with this disorder are able to achieve incredible things.

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