North American publishing rights to former pro football tight end Ben Utecht‘s poignant memoir Counting The Days Until My Mind Slips Away: A Love Letter To My Family have been acquired by the Howard Books Division of Simon & Schuster. With a “substantial six-figure advance,” the deal was brokered by Steve Ross, director of the book division at Abrams Artists Agency. Utecht will co-write the memoir with Mark Tabb.
Howard, a faith-based publisher acquired in 2006 by S&S, publishes “inspirational content” about Christian living. Its best-selling authors include various members of Duck Dynasty’s Robertson family, Jay Sekulow and Tim Conway.
After five years in the National Football League playing for the Indianapolis Colts, where he won a Super Bowl ring, and the Cincinnati Bengals, Utecht retired when a routine training drill resulted in his fifth documented concussion. Suffering from multiple traumatic brain injuries, Utecht has battled severe memory loss. He’s become a leading advocate for brain health. A brain condition known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy, has been linked to several suicides among former NFL players, including recent Hall of Fame inductee Junior Seau.
“We are thrilled for the opportunity to work with Ben and bring his story to fans, particularly in light of the growing controversy surrounding CTE in professional football players,” said Jonathan Merkh, Vice President and Publisher of Howard Books. “His commitment to his family and faith make him an excellent role model and we are happy to have him as part of the Howard roster of authors.”
Confronted with the prospect of becoming a shell of his former self, Utecht first penned a letter to his family which evolved into the song “You Will Always Be My Girls.” With Counting The Days, Utecht, a minister’s son, hopes to share the lessons he’s learned about living a life of love, faith, and meaning when you know your memory may have an expiration date, per the Abrams announcement.
Tabb has authored or co-authored nearly 30 books, including No. 1 New York Times Bestseller Mistaken Identity and A Promise To Ourselves with Alec Baldwin.
Utecht is national spokesperson for the American Brain Foundation and the American Academy of Neurology, which honored him in 2014 with its most prestigious award, the Public Leadership In Neurology Award. He’s also a professional singer and uses music as a part of sharing his story.