WASHINGTON – Year after year, Bryan Namoff has been the picture of reliability for his D.C. United coaches, teammates and fans. Rarely flashy, hardly ever risky, he took the right-back position and made it his own, tending to his duties through multiple coaching staffs and recurring personnel changes around him.
So it’s entirely understandable that he finds his current predicament infuriating. A decade in, Namoff’s career is stuck on freeze-frame due to a nebulous set of injuries which have defied simple diagnosis, much less treatment, while he watches his teammates suffer through one of the worst seasons in franchise history.
“It’s just been one of the toughest experiences of my life so far," Namoff said Friday, a day after he announced the suspension of his playing career due to the confounding effects of whiplash and post-concussion syndrome. "It’s tough to really explain to people unless you’re gone through these types of symptoms."
“That vagueness has been weighing on, not only me as an athlete, but it’s affecting my personal life, just with the amount of stress because we’re trying to rush back to the field, trying to see the right people to figure out what type of courses of treatment are needed to heal.”
A collision suffered in a 1-0 win over Kansas City last September triggered headaches and dizzy spells which refuse to abate even 10 months later, keeping him off the field and disrupting his everyday existence to the point that his move from the roster to a special front-office position offers relief, not regret.
“I’m fortunate now where I’ve been given an opportunity by my organization to kind of reduce the stress level," he said. "It allows me to suspend my playing career and find the right healing process with what type of doctors I need to see, or physical therapists with my neck, and really get to the bottom of this."
In the meantime, he hopes to gain an understanding of the business side of the game in his new role as Special Projects Manager under longtime general manager Dave Kasper.
“Dave is well-respected not only within the team but throughout the league," said Namoff. "He’s definitely got a lot to offer me in terms of learning experience. I’m just going to try to make the most out of it.
“I don’t know if I’ll necessarily go down the route of stepping into the coaching spot – I think I’ll have to leave that for [former teammate] Ben Olsen. But as far as the technical side or business development opportunities, I think that’s definitely a good transition for my post career.”
But despite his recent announcement, Namoff is not quite ready to concede defeat just yet. He continues his monthly visits to Dr. Robert Cantu, a Boston-based neurologist specializing in concussions, and is set to begin a new physical therapy regimen for his neck based on “manual manipulation of my upper cervical vertebrae,” as he describes it.
“I am holding onto the hope, from the support of my teammates, from the fans, and from my family,” he said. “The amount of support that’s been offered to me in the last 48 hours, and in the last 10 years of being on the team, has just been fantastic. So it’s definitely something I want to make a promise to – if I can regain my health, if they would love to see me on the field, then I would love to grant them that wish.”
Namoff is also eager to make amends to his wife Nadine, who has shown love and forbearance throughout his ordeal.
“I also owe her a honeymoon, which she has been continuing to let me know about,” he said. “We had a honeymoon set for last December and because of my injury we had to cancel. Maybe this will allow me to repay her as well, for all the times that she’s had to deal with me over the last nine months of symptoms, the frustrations – when an athlete’s not on the field, he’s difficult to deal with at home.”