Johnny Knoxville Is Literally A Brain Injury Magazine's Poster Boy
It’s a strange surprise to learn that there is an actual magazine called The Traumatic Brain Injury Times. However, it’s not at all astonishing that Jackass’ Johnny Knoxville graced the most recent publication’s front page – if anything, the most shocking part of this story is the revelation that The TBI Times has ever printed a single edition that didn’t feature the Jackass crew (or any former NFL player) as their cover model.
Knoxville certainly has the resume for a feature in the The Brain Injury Association of California’s flagship periodical – the Jackass creator and star previously estimated that he’s suffered 16 separate concussions during his work on the franchise, including a brain hemorrhage on Jackass Forever that he discussed at length in his TBI Times profile. The details of Knoxville’s grueling recovery from his most recent bull-related brian trauma gives us a glimpse into the medical world’s understanding and treatment of traumatic brain injuries – including the most hilariously self-inflicted ones.
The TBI Times mission statement reads, “Our mission is to bring awareness to traumatic brain injury while empowering, inspiring, and educating TBI survivors, their families, and caregivers.” They might as well revise it to, “We’re just going to chronicle what happens when a Jackass star makes it past 50.”
“When I shot out and I spread my wings like planned, I was so happy, then gravity kicked in. I started going down and turned into a big chicken in flight,” Knoxville begins, referencing one of the most iconic stunts in Jackass Forever in which he was shot out of a cannon about fifty feet into the air while wearing feathered wings. “But as Willie Nelson once said, ‘There’s nothing I can do about it now.’”
The TBI Times article, titled “Has Johnny Knoxville flown too close to the sun?” tracks Knoxville’s head trauma starting from the launch of the Jackass TV show in 2000 and going all the way up to 2022’s Jackass Forever. Throughout the years, Knoxville has described his profession simply – “I work with gravity and Newton’s third law of motion,” he says.
The tools of Knoxville’s trade are characteristically at odds with his anatomy, which was none-more-apparent than in his most recent skit to feature a charging bull, “The Magic Trick” from Jackass Forever. While attempting to perform simple illusions for an angry rodeo bull, the animal charged Knoxville and flipped him into the air, causing him to land squarely on his head. “I guess that bull just didn’t like magic,” he’d later quip.
Following the stunt, Knoxville was taken straight to the hospital and spent the next few months struggling to regain basic cognitive functions. “My doctor asked me, ‘Are you having trouble concentrating?’ Apparently, I scored 17 out of 100 on a test measuring my cognitive ability. I couldn’t focus, I couldn’t edit,” he recalled. In addition, emotional issues accompanied his struggles with cognition – said Knoxville, “My brain was just playing tricks on me. I got really depressed and over-focused on things.” Knoxville’s doctors used a combination of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, behavioral therapy, and psychiatric medication to assist his long, arduous recovery.
Despite the disastrous end to his last Jackass endeavor, Knoxville claims that his body – and brain – are as agile and ready for punishment as ever. “It was a really hard recovery from this last injury, but I’m great now,” he said, “I feel like I’m the healthiest I’ve ever been.” Still, Knoxville acknowledges that his days as a human crash test dummy are numbered, saying “You can only take so many chances before one forever catches up with you. I realized that and, amazingly, I’m still walking around. I think I’ve pushed my luck far enough.”
Agreed, Johnny - once you're on the cover of The Traumatic Brain Injury Times it's time to realize that the next appearance will likely be posthumous.