After heart condition thwarts NFL career,  student teacher bounces back, shifts focus

UNI assistant offensive lineman coach, student teacher, former offensive lineman and “lifelong Packers fan,” Jay Teply, was ready to jump ship to the Vikings as soon as he got the call from his agent in May of 2012. 

“I was at my wife’s softball tournament when my agent called me and told me I had a tryout with the Vikings. I was so happy to be able to tell her that I’d got what we’d been working for,” Teply said.

Little did he know that 24 hours after the contract was offered that he would be devastated with news about his heart. He had Atrial Fibrillation (AFib).

With AFib, Teply had an irregular heartbeat that could lead to blood clots, strokes and heart failure. Like many others, Teply didn’t even realize he had AFib until a doctor told him.

The news was “crushing” for Teply, who had loved and played the game of football his whole life. “Sitting in the doctor’s office being told I was never going to play any more was one of the worst feelings in the world,” he said. “Afterward, all I felt was confusion. Everything in my life so far had been about football, and I didn’t know where to go.”

He tried to get himself back at it by trying different jobs, but nothing stuck. Eventually his wife, Sam, convinced him to go back to school to become a teacher. He did so to help her with their young son Cooper.

After three years off, Teply started coaching at the high school level. “I found out that I really enjoy being around that age group and having that kind of role in people’s lives,” Teply said. 

He is now the assistant lineman coach for the UNI Panther football team. Teply said he is enjoying where his life is headed, and that he is excited to become a teacher that “a student can come to with anything.”

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