In an email to the Tribune, Hillenmeyer said, "I have nothing but the utmost respect for the Bears organization. I do not leave this franchise bitter or feeling slighted by anyone in the building. In truth, I've known this day was coming since I landed on IR back in September. In that conversation with Lovie (Smith), he acknowledged that having been made aware of my history, and the number of concussions I had sustained on his watch, that he could not be a part of forcing me back out on the field.
"While at the time I was frustrated with such an abrupt end to my season, I have sought out and continue to seek the medical opinions of the best doctors in country as it relates to brain health and concussions. I am yet to find one that thinks it is a good idea to continue playing football. In hindsight, that makes me grateful that Lovie cared enough about me specifically, but really any player, to take that decision away as it pertains to a medical issue.
"Barring some unforeseen turn of events, I don't think there was a set of circumstances where I would have been cleared to play next season anyway. The more we pull back the curtain on the long-term effects of head injury, the scarier it gets for players in my position, who have multiple diagnosed concussions and countless more 'dings' and headaches
. On one hand, I feel lucky to have been relatively candid about my symptoms compared to some colleagues who do everything they can to conceal their struggles. I can only thank the Bears organization, from the trainers and the doctors up to Lovie and Jerry (Angelo), for trying to be proactive in the way concussions are handled. On the other hand, any player who tells you they aren't affected by the tragic stories like Dave Duerson's, that seem to be popping up all too often, are lying.