Justin Fields regained consciousness in the back of the ambulance with no recollection of what had happened. All he remembered from that morning in ninth grade was feeling "a little bit off" as he headed to Harrison High School in Kennesaw, Georgia.
Sitting in health class, Fields said he zoned out a handful of times. He would later learn he had a seizure and lost consciousness.
The 23-year-old Chicago Bears quarterback, who was 15 at the time, was diagnosed with epilepsy, which is the fourth-most common neurological disorder in the world, according to the Epilepsy Foundation.
"I was crying, because I didn't know how that would affect my football career," Fields recently told ESPN.
As it turned out, it hasn't affected it at all. Fields, in just his second season, is emerging as one of the most prolific rushing quarterbacks in the NFL and leads all QBs with 834 rushing yards this season, despite missing Sunday's game after suffering a separated left shoulder. After a tough rookie season, Fields was beginning to live up to his hype before the shoulder injury, including rushing for 178 yards -- the most by a QB in a regular-season game in the Super Bowl era -- against the Miami Dolphins in Week 9. He's considered day-to-day leading up to Sunday's game against the Green Bay Packers (1 p.m. ET, Fox) in Chicago.
The Bears traded up nine spots to select Fields No. 11 overall in the 2021 draft, and former Bears GM Ryan Pace, who was fired after a 6-11 finish last season, said Chicago was comfortable drafting Fields because of how he handled his condition.
As November, which is National Epilepsy Awareness Month, comes to an end, Fields opened up about his journey, from that day in the ninth grade, to understanding the warning signs to the preventative measures he takes every day to the potential of outgrowing the condition. There was a time he said he wasn't comfortable talking about epilepsy, but now he wants to help raise awareness and be a role model for others.