Being a special needs dad

Digger O’Brien ’89 | June 25, 2015 


Over the past decade, Digger O’Brien, an Emmy award-winning producer for NFL Films, has learned to cope with the fact that his autistic son will never love the game the way he does. But in life—just like in football—gameplans often change.

Imagine loving sports all your life, then getting a dream job with the NFL working for Steve Sabol. And imagine you can’t wait for the day when you can share it all with your son—until you find out that day will never come.
I have four kids; my son Frederick is 13 years old, and has a diagnosis of autism and mental retardation. If you asked him his favorite athletes, he would say Elmo, Cookie Monster and the Count; those are his three favorite people and he doesn’t know what an athlete is. I’ve been with NFL Films for 20 years and been lucky enough to attend a dozen Super Bowls, but none with Frederick. He sometimes sits down to watch an Eagles game with me, but only for the purpose of waiting for a player to fall down or get tackled, and then he takes the remote and plays it over and over again.

Read more here.

Originally published by Daily Domer Staff at on June 25, 2015.