WASHINGTON — Long before Kirk Cousins was the Cinderella backup-turned-starter in Washington, Gus Frerotte was the seventh-round pick who ascended to starter past top pick Heath Shuler.
Frerotte, like Cousins, had a big arm, the ability to lead, and an exuberant sense of celebration. Just like Cousins’ “You Like That!” Frerotte’s celebration was also caught on film, much to everyone’s chagrin:
The moment followed a one-yard touchdown rush against the New York Giants on Sunday Night Football. It would be great if there was more to the celebration, but it was Frerotte literally ramming his head against the wall.
It turns out that there isn’t much padding on those steel stadium walls.
Frerotte was taken to the hospital at halftime and diagnosed with a strained neck. He missed the rest of the game, which the Redskins tied 7-7. But in the big picture, he is one of the lucky ones.
“I’m fortunate that generally in the quarterback position, you’re not taking as many hits to the head as some other positions,” he recently told Trib Live in Pittsburgh.
Frerotte, who retired after 15 seasons in 2008, has put his efforts behind RC21X, a tech company where he serves as vice president of brain health initiatives.
The app, named after Roberto Clemente, whose son serves on the company’s board, uses a series of visual, auditory and dexterity stimuli to measure brain performance and cognitive ability.
“We want everybody to be able to understand their own brain health,” Frerotte explained. “People have problems as they age, and the brain is the only organ we don’t really understand.
“It gives players a chance to see their brains and monitor activity every day if they want to. It provides an easy way to look at the most vital organ in your body.”
As for the infamous headbutt, Frerotte still gets a chuckle when he thinks back on it. Earlier this year, he appeared on Thom Loverro’s Cigars and Curveballs Podcast to discuss the defining moment from nearly 20 years ago.
“You know, if you didn’t have a sense of humor about it, I don’t think that you would ever survive it,” he said. “Because I don’t think I go anywhere without somebody talking about it, or asking me about it, or what happened.
“And they try to be nice, but they really kind of want to be mean — some people. And other people just want to know what happened. It happened, and I’ve been able to move on from it, but I still can talk about it, because it was a part of my life.”