On Nov. 8, 2012, Matt Hegarty left Notre Dame football practice with not only doubts about ever playing football again but also questions regarding his long-term health.
On Saturday, Hegarty will walk on to the field for the final time as a college athlete when his Oregon Ducks play TCU in the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio, Texas. When the game is over, the former standout from Aztec High School will set his sights and his heart on the NFL.
That’s the same heart that caused Hegarty to have a stroke that fall day in South Bend, Ind. He was operated on in December 2012.
After losing his ability to speak during practice, Notre Dame trainers suspected Hegarty suffered a stroke. Doctors soon confirmed the stroke and traced the cause to two holes in Hegarty’s heart that were supposed to close after birth but never did.