DENVER - Months after a seizure ended his season last year, Broncos defensive end Derek Wolfe says he is ready to get back to work for the next season.
Wolfe was placed on a backboard and carted off the field during a preseason game against Seattle last August. He returned to play in the first 11 games of the season, but in retrospect says he knew something was not right.
"I thought I was fully healed and I came back a little too soon and kept hitting it," Wolfe told 7NEWS in an interview Wednesday. "It screwed up my nervous system a little bit - crisscrossed the wires a little bit."
Something was wrong, but it was never nailed down.
"Mentally, it was hard to deal with because I didn't know what was going on. Losing weight, my adrenals weren't functioning right. Nothing was really working right. What it came down to was I just needed to let it heal," Wolfe said.
Then, on November, 29, he suffered a seizure while riding the team bus to the airport.
"My nervous system kinda shut down," Wolfe said. "My body just kind of stopped. I didn't feel like I passed out, it just felt like I needed to fall asleep."
He says teammate Terrance Knighton started yelling for the bus to stop. Wolfe awoke 26 hours later in the hospital.
Wolfe says he was restrained in the hospital and even put into a medically induced coma to allow doctors to perform a spinal tap.
"They did an unbelievable job," he says.
To this day, the origin of the season-ending spine injury remains a bit of a mystery. Wolfe and his doctors suspect it all began with the preseason injury in Seattle, but they cannot be sure. It could also have been a random, unlucky impact from another game he played in -- or some combination of hits.
With the support of the Broncos, Wolfe took two months off to rest and recover after that seizure.
"Everybody just wanted to see me get better because it was scary. You know? To see one of your teammates go down like that, I can only imagine what those guys were thinking," Wolfe said.
Now, Wolfe says he is headed back to start training next week.
"I needed to let myself heal, so I took about two months and did nothing," he says -- adding that it seems to have worked. "I feel better than I ever felt before."