The football career of Journey Brown has come to an end.
The Penn State running back, who emerged as a star late in the 2019 season, announced Wednesday night that he has been diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. According to the Mayo Clinic, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is “a disease in which the heart muscle becomes abnormally thick” and “can make it harder for the heart to pump blood.”
The heart condition has forced Brown to medically retire from the game of football.
“The pain of not being able to play the game I love anymore hurts and I can’t explain how I am feeling right now. However, I can walk away from the game knowing I truly gave my all at every practice, on every down and in the locker room every day,” Brown wrote.
Last month, Penn State announced that Brown could miss the 2020 season after a “medical condition” was discovered during the offseason. No specifics were given at the time.
Penn State head coach James Franklin said Wednesday that Brown’s condition was uncovered as a result of the testing the players underwent as part of COVID-19 protocols. Brown consulted multiple opinions, and it was determined that he should stop playing football.
“Journey is one of the most popular and respected players on our team,” Franklin said. “When we found out about this in early September, the entire organization rallied behind Journey and his family. We need Nittany Nation to do the same, as I know we will. Journey’s handled this unbelievably well and I know he'll be extremely successful, whatever he decides to do.”
Brown became one of the Big Ten’s top RBs
Brown established himself as one of the Big Ten’s top running backs as the 2019 season progressed. In 10 starts, Brown rushed for 890 yards and 12 touchdowns on 129 carries. Brown also caught 15 passes for 134 yards and a score in 2019.
His biggest game came in what would end up being his final game. In PSU’s win over Memphis in the Cotton Bowl, Brown rushed for 202 yards and two touchdowns on just 16 carries.
Before 2019, Brown, who would have been a redshirt junior this season, had just eight carries for 44 yards. Based on his breakout 2019 season, Brown generated significant NFL draft buzz.
Last month, Brown told reporters that he considered not participating this season but he ultimately chose to play one more year before moving on to the NFL.
“I finally had the opportunity to showcase what I was born to do and, hopefully, set myself up to achieve my lifelong dream of playing in the NFL. Unfortunately, the dream will never be realized,” Brown wrote.
Penn State has struggled to run the ball without Brown. PSU also lost Noah Cain, Brown’s replacement, to a season-ending injury in the team’s first game against Indiana. With those two sidelined, PSU has relied on sophomore Devyn Ford and freshmen Caziah Holmes and Keyvone Lee. The three have combined for just 224 yards on 58 carries.
The Nittany Lions opened their season ranked No. 8 in the AP poll but are now unranked after a surprising 0-3 start. PSU’s next game is on Saturday at Nebraska.
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