It was a suicide that rocked college football, and few were more saddened than Arizona linebacker Tony Fields II.
Following the death of Washington State quarterback Tyler Hilinski, an autopsy showed signs of CTE. And, Hilinksi's parents pointed to a behavioral change following a big hit by Fields during a game in October.
"The first play I thought about was me and him on the goal-line, and me and him came head-to-head," Fields said after practice on Thursday. "I thought I was going to get thrown out of the game. It was a crazy hit. It was a crazy situation."
In an article featured in Sports Illustrated magazine, Hilinksi told his brother that the hit "rocked him." He was dead a few months later.
“When I saw what happened and heard about the autopsy ... it was sad because I feel like I was a part of that,” Fields said. “It was very sad.”
Fields says the tragic death and the research surrounding degenerative brain disease will change the way he plays the game.
“You gotta play football the way they want you to play now,” he said. “You can’t hit towards the head, you’ve gotta use your shoulders more than anything, hit more below the belt, honestly. You don’t want to hit high. The more you hit high, the more chance you have of hurting your head, getting a head injury long-term or short-term.”