My first encounter with football comes through my memories of my dad watching football and pointing at the screen telling me “that is Tony Dorsett – one of the greatest”. I remember for a while thinking the NFL consisted of the Dallas Cowboys and the Pittsburgh Steelers. I would however become a die-hard fan of Tony Dorsett for life. It was absolutely heartbreaking to read his story about his struggle and fight with CTE – Chronic Traumatic Encephalophy which is a degenerative disease that is showing up more and more in football players.
WHAT IS CTE
[quote style=”boxed”]Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) is a progressive degenerative disease of the brain found in athletes (and others) with a history of repetitive brain trauma, including symptomatic concussions as well as asymptomatic subconcussive hits to the head. CTE has been known to affect boxers since the 1920s. However, recent reports have been published of neuropathologically confirmed CTE in retired professional football players and other athletes who have a history of repetitive brain trauma. This trauma triggers progressive degeneration of the brain tissue, including the build-up of an abnormal protein called tau. These changes in the brain can begin months, years, or even decades after the last brain trauma or end of active athletic involvement. The brain degeneration is associated with memory loss, confusion, impaired judgment, impulse control problems, aggression, depression, and, eventually, progressive dementia. [/quote]
– Boston University – CTE Center
Hearing about his struggles with suicidal thoughts, forgetting where he is and where he’s going, and his inability at times to control his temper with his wife and daughters is heartbreaking. He was diagnosed a little over a year ago and has admitted to having suicidal thoughts as well. This is tragic and begs the question – what if anything can the NFL do to prevent and or cut down on this among its players.
While players themselves have spoken on this – it remains to be seen what across the board measure the NFL can or will take to prevent tragic situations like this from happening in the future for players.
While I love the sport and am a fan for life – all the players including Tony deserve to live out their lives without the specter of degenerative brain illness.