Jarrett Irons: a former All-American linebacker and Concussion Center champion

February 14, 2023


By Tina Chen

Video: Jarrett Irons, Concussion Center’s advisory board member and former U-M football co-captain in the 1990s, shared his father’s story and the reasons why he believes and supports the center’s mission. (Credit: Michigan News, Laura Bailey & Jeremy Marble)

Jarrett Irons, a name familiar to many who watched Michigan football in the late 1990s, was the team’s co-captain and named consecutively the Roger Zatkoff best linebacker in 1995 and 1996. As we celebrate black history month, we would also like to take this opportunity to honor Jarrett, whose serving heart has inspired many of us to continue pursuing neurological science relentlessly through research, clinical care, outreach, and public engagement. 

The Concussion Center was first connected with Jarrett in early 2022, shortly after his family moved to Michigan from Chicago. We met with Jarrett in a popular brunch restaurant in downtown Detroit, which he now calls home. After listening to the story about how the Concussion Center was founded and our mission for the future, Jarrett raised his hand to join our advisory board, where he now provides guidance and wise counsel to leadership as someone who has personal experience with a concussion and knows why brain health matters. 

Sports-related injuries are not foreign to the Irons family. Many family members, including his brother, cousins, and father, played collegiate or professional football. When we first met Jarrett, he mentioned the family’s suspicion of the link between his dad’s repetitive head injuries to the cognitive impairment before his passing. As concussion research and neurological science are evolving, we know we must do more studies to understand the correlation fully. 

In the fall of 2022, Concussion Center members launched the “U-M Alumni Neurological Health Study.” This survey, once completed, will be U-M’s first population-based study investigating key long-term neurological outcomes in former male and female athletes, as well as the broader U-M alumni community age spectrum. As a former collegiate and professional athlete, Jarrett was one of the first to complete the survey and helped promote the study among fellow alums without hesitation. He shared his stories, vision, and pride in being an integral part of the Concussion Center with U-M’s Michigan News team. A local media, Detroit News, later shared these stories with an even wider audience. 

“I just want to help” is a motto that reminds us of Jarrett, and this all-American linebacker is now a true concussion champion for the center. 

Curious about what Jarrett has to say? Check out:

Jarrett Irons visiting the Alumni Center in May 2022
Jarrett Irons visiting Alumni Center in May 2022. “For those who leave Michigan, but for whom Michigan never leaves.”