Journey Brown with the outstanding offensive player trophy after the 2019 Cotton Bowl.

One of Penn State’s prominent players is now leaving football for good thanks to a heart condition. That would be running back Journey Brown, who posted 890 yards and 12 touchdowns on 129 carries during the 2019 season, his sophomore year. Brown (#4 above, seen last December lifting the most outstanding offensive player award he received for his play in the Cotton Bowl Classic) put out this statement on Twitter Wednesday:

Nittany Lions’ head coach James Franklin also discussed this with reporters Wednesday. Here are some quotes from Franklin, via Nick Kosko of 247Sports:

“It was discovered through a routine COVID-19 test, although it is not COVID related,” Franklin said. “We learned about this in early September, and we’ve been working through this and dealing with this as a team. Journey is one of the most popular and respected players on our team. The entire organization is rallied behind Journey and his family. We need Nittany Nation to do the same as I know we will. Journey has handled this unbelievably well. I know he’ll be extremely successful and whatever he decides to do. He’s been serving as an assistant coach running backs coach has been very involved. He’s been traveling to all the games and all those types of things. … We were able to go outside and get some second opinions. And it was confirmed.”

As noted there, Brown hadn’t played in the Nittany Lions’ three games so far this year, and there had been reports in October that he might miss the season. But it’s certainly notable to see this now lead to him leaving football altogether at the age of 21.

Hypertropic cardiomyopathy (the abnormal thickening of the heart muscle) definitely can be serious, though. The Mayo Clinic’s page on the condition notes that while many with HCM experience few to no symptoms, for some, it can “cause shortness of breath, chest pain or problems in the heart’s electrical system, resulting in life-threatening abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias) or sudden death.” It’s unfortunate that Brown’s case is significant enough that he can’t play football any longer. We wish him all the best with whatever is next for him.

[ from Tim Heitman/USA Today Sports]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz is a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. He previously worked at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.