February 21st, 2011
06:54 PM ET

Player's text: Send my brain to NFL research bank

The toll of repeated head blows and injuries loomed over football after the death last week of former NFL player, Dave Duerson.

Duerson, a former Chicago Bears safety who was a key member of the team's legendary defense,  was found dead Thursday in Florida.  He was 50.  Duerson shot himself in the chest, which kept his brain intact for examination for a debilitating brain injury called chronic traumatic encephalopathy, known as CTE.

His son, Tregg Duerson said, "There was a text message the night before that was a bizarre text message that he sent to my mother saying that he loved her and he loved my family and that to please get his brain to the NFL brain bank. My mother called me at work. We talked about it and it was bizarre text. You can't make sense of it."

They tried to reach him, but "no one could get in contact with him," Tregg Duerson said, with his voice trembling.

"When I'm getting up at 1:30 in the morning and I'm letting the police in, you know, the first thing on my mind is, 'I think they're about to tell me my father died.'"

It is unclear whether Duerson had the brain damage that can cause bizarre behavior and severe depression.  It is impossible to determine whether a person has CTE without examining his or her brain after death.

The NFL has been criticized for being too lax in dealing with the consequences of head blows. Last year, the league's new medical committee members  vowed to change that culture and step up efforts to prevent head injuries.

“We have no idea whether he had the disease,” said Dr. Robert Stern, a co-director of Boston University’s Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy.  The center has a brain donation registry for athletes to study effects of trauma on the brain and spinal cord.

BU's researchers are expected to examine Duerson’s brain. The process could take months.

Duerson never mentioned health problems or concerns, said his friend and former teammate, Emery Moorehead.

“It caught everybody off guard,” said Moorehead, about his friend’s death.  “Everybody saw him at the 25-year reunion," of the Super Bowl-winning 1985 Bears.

“Everyone saw him. He never mentioned anything. He was quite upbeat, speaking of getting married in April.  It just came out of the blue,” Moorehead said.

Duerson’s death left Moorehead to join other players who have previously expressed  worry about the punishment their bodies have endured from the repeated blows and grueling tackles.

“It makes me concerned,” Moorehead said.  You’re kind of conditioned to block with your head. You lead with your head.  After playing 20 years, there’s a concern.”

Athletes are increasingly aware of those risks, said BU's Stern.

“I hear frequently from former players,” he said.  “It’s a combination of joking and serious discussions of them being aware of their memory slipping or behavior changes that they're now becoming more and more concerned about because of awareness of CTE.”

CTE has also been called the punch-drunk syndrome and dementia pugilistica, because career boxers who have suffered repeated blows to the head have been known to develop the syndrome. It is believed largely to affect aging boxers and football players who have experienced crushing blows to their heads.

Many of the aging players struggle with brain injuries and appear as shells of former selves.

Former linebacker Fred McNeill, 58, virtually lost his memory after his glory days ended in the mid-'80s.  Former San Francisco 49ers lineman George Visger has to scrawl the minutiae of his daily life in yellow notebooks or else he forgets what he did minutes ago. His is another case of ex-NFL athletes struggling with memory loss, depression and sudden, frightening bouts of rage.

Recent studies suggest the reason may be blows to the brain the players suffered on the football field. CTE's effects are mainly neurobehavioral. These symptoms include poor decision-making, behavioral problems, failure at personal and business relationships, use of drugs and alcohol, depression and suicide.

Traces of the disease has been found in the brains of several late NFL football players, including John Grimsley, Mike Webster, Andre Waters, Justin Strzelczyk, Terry Long, Tom McHale and Chris Henry.

Grimsley died of an accidental gunshot wound to the chest. Webster, Long and Strzelczyk all died after long bouts of depression, while Waters committed suicide in 2006 at age 44. McHale was found dead last year of an apparent drug overdose. Henry died at age 26 after falling from a moving truck during a fight with his girlfriend.

Recent research shows that even high school and college players have accumulated brain damage.  The syndrome is believed to be caused by large accumulations of tau proteins in the brain that kill cells in the regions responsible for mood, emotion and executive functioning. Tau proteins are also found in the brains of patients with Alzheimer's disease and dementia.

Just because a player experiences several concussions throughout his career, it does not mean that the syndrome is inevitable.

“As often in the case of medicine, there is probably an underlying susceptibility, due to a set of genetic makeup that is in conjunction with multiple injuries that could lead to CTE,” said Dr. Robert Stevens, associate professor at Johns Hopkins University, who takes care of people with brain injuries.

Duerson’s death comes shortly before the NFL’s labor deal is set to expire March 3.  Players and team owners are in conflict over the split of billions of dollars of revenue and the number of regular season games.  The owners want to expand the season to 18 games from 16.

Dr. Bennet Omalu, neuropathologist at the Brain Injury Research Institute who was  first to describe CTE in an American football player, vociferously opposes extending the season.

“We should not sacrifice the lives of the players," he said.  "It reminds me of ancient Rome."

“This is an epidemic. I have not met a retired NFL player who is not having problems.”

soundoff (311 Responses)
  1. TH

    And the owners want to add another 2 games to the season despite this?

    February 21, 2011 at 21:25 | Report abuse | Reply
    • J

      Another two games won't make a difference. The only thing that could happen is that people could have shorter careers by simply playing the same amount of games over time. It doesn't matter when the damage happens, so 18 games in a row, or 16 games one year and 2 the next are really the same when it comes to brain damage.

      February 21, 2011 at 22:27 | Report abuse |
    • Debba

      If they exchange 2 pre-season games & add two that count, it's still the same number of games. I think they should let the teams have more players, add some depth so everyone gets less hits.

      February 22, 2011 at 13:49 | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      This is actually for "J." There is a big difference between 16 and 18 games; 2 extra weeks of getting your brains bashed in AND 2 fewer weeks to recover from the season. I absolutely love football, but enough is enough. They need to crack down more on player launching. No one knows how to form tackle anymore. Look at the defensive player of the year Troy Polamalu. (Full disclosure Steelers are team I root for). He is getting so beat up because he plays reckless, he launches himself all the time, and I don't think he could actually tackle someone to save his life. I saw it in the playoffs and the Super Bowl. Also, players are getting WAY too big. Go back and watch games the '85 bears. William Perry, at over 300lbs, was an anomally in the league. How many players are over 300lbs now.

      February 22, 2011 at 14:00 | Report abuse |
    • Kathryn

      Football players make a lot of money, a lot more than others like police & firefighters etc. that do a dangerous job too. Nobody is forcing them to play the sport and they are aware of the potential for long term health problems, so let them play. This does not mean they should abandon trying to make the game safer with better equipment, rules and medical care, but face it, as long as the multi million dollar salaries are there, people will line up to play the game and the rest of us will line up to watch it.

      February 23, 2011 at 13:22 | Report abuse |
  2. BrainInjuryForMoneyRules

    Kingfisher wins. +1.

    February 21, 2011 at 21:35 | Report abuse | Reply

      It is about finding ways to make the game safer for players of all ages, not about abolishing the game, or saying that players arent well paid for their efforts.

      There are researchers (TBI, CTE) and companies like GelCool working to develop products that reduce the trauma, and as a result improve the player's lives.

      These blogs always break down into polarized arguments, but the issue isnt how much money players make – what about Pop Warner 8 year olds? They dont get paid – but they are extremely vulnerable to concussion. This is why the research and development happens – because the athletes arent spoiled rich people that some bloggers despise, but the athletes are kids, parents (NFL players), brothers and so on.

      February 23, 2011 at 01:23 | Report abuse |
    • Richard W.

      I believe it is rediculous to make Football so safe that it becomes a Flag Football Game that you played in high school with
      your friends.

      Football has always been this type of Game. If you don't want to take the risk then don't play for your $10,000,000.00
      per year. All Sports that are professinal can be very dangerous. Auto-Racing, Baseball, Downhill skingiing, Ice Hockey,
      Boat Racing, ice skating, on and on. Our Marines, Army, Navy, Airforce etc put their lives on the line almost everyday
      for $30,000. per year. The biggest problems in this country right now iis people are getting so fearful of everything
      that they want to live in a plastic bubble.

      It.s more dangerous walking out of your apartment in Oakland, Ca. then people playing Football.

      This story comes down to one thing. After the husband committed suicide the family wants a reason to sue the NFL
      for a few million dolllars. I saw right through the interview.

      Just my opinion. Enjoy your life it is short and you can die from something at any moment.

      February 24, 2011 at 01:33 | Report abuse |
  3. scott

    that's funny!!!

    February 21, 2011 at 21:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. slick50

    Yeah you have brain damage because you are a IDIOT

    February 21, 2011 at 21:40 | Report abuse | Reply
    • sigh


      February 22, 2011 at 14:18 | Report abuse |
    • r_hope

      ... Slick50 said while looking at himself on the mirror.

      February 25, 2011 at 15:08 | Report abuse |
  5. Pitstop13

    Maybe they should just play flag football? I don't know why people are getting so carried away with the fact that some ex- football players have brain injury's...In many different profesions people get hurt or suffer long term disabilities from doing the job they do. If the players are so concerned about the possibility of a brain injury then find another profession....the reason they won't is because the money they get for playing a game makes its worth the risk!

    February 21, 2011 at 21:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Susan

    This is actually really sad. I wonder how we will look back on this in 20 or so years. I hope it changes for the better, it's not acceptable to hurt this many people just for sport.

    February 21, 2011 at 21:53 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Ravennwings

      Sure it is, IF the players are consenting. If the players are aware and accepting of the risks, who the heck are you to tell them that they have no business playing the game?

      People keep comparing this to the Roman Gladiators, how we watch people bludgeon each other for fun. Everyone keeps forgetting one key difference, though–ALL NFL players are consenting adults, as opposed to Rome's slaves, prisoners, and dissenters being thrown into the arena for the peoples' amusement.

      Of course, they also forget that many gladiators who were originally unwilling COULD win their freedom in the arena, but CHOSE NOT TO, because they loved the fame, glory, and gold that came from being a top-notch athlete...Same as today, really. Humans love their warriors. NFL is just one more battlefield, only (usually) nobody has to die for their glory.

      February 22, 2011 at 10:01 | Report abuse |
  7. frankthebunny

    freakin hilarious Kingfisher

    February 21, 2011 at 21:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. bob

    I've been a huge football fan my whole life, but big changes need to be made. Retired players are suffering too much !

    February 21, 2011 at 21:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. wjackmullen

    I had my lights knocked out several times playing High School football. My dad played D1 college football and seemed to act very violent and strange as he aged. I now believe that this was the result of CTE. We need to have a serious discussion about ending tackle football for minors and replacing it with flag football with no pads and no hard hits. Sort of like girl's field hockey. Parents, coaches and the players have no idea of how much damage they are doing to the brain when a player makes helmet contact with any part of another player and especially another helmet. End tackle football in all schools up through college and replace with flag football. Then if people choose to play professional football, like with boxing, then it is up to the individual. Remember, firemen and policemen risk their lives every day. Football players should have the same right.

    February 21, 2011 at 22:01 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Bill

      They already have that right. It's called freewill. Maybe the problem is the 6 figure incentive that needs to go away, so grown men aren't literally killing themselves to live the American dream.

      February 21, 2011 at 22:29 | Report abuse |
  10. pigsticker

    I played high school football in the early 70s with the best equipment possible and the best coaching and as a lineman, I took a beating each play, weather it be in practice or a game. I know I suffered one concussion and possibly two over the course my 30 game high school career but most of the big hit was at practice when we was told to * walk it off* or * are you hurting or injured" was asked and maybe some smelling salts or a 10 minute break was offered to recoup. Yet 40 yrs later, I feel no ill affects of those blow and from what I keep in touch of my 50-60 team mates after all this time, not one committed suicide or was arrested for being violent or had seizures or continuing trauma after high school YET I know of 8 former classmates that never played football, let alone sports that were chronically arrested for drunkenness or drug use and 4 committed suicide in jail,prison, gang assocaition or cancer.

    This head injury crap has been play big and played too long. My 2 brothers played for 4 yrs as my brother-in-law and his brothers and my sons and my newphews and not a single one ever was arrested, hospitalized,commited, or commited suicide from blows to the head as 99.9% of most boxers I have known that that a years worth of head blows each boxng match than I did in a year of football.

    It reminds me of old guys I knew at work that were in vietnam......3 of then were in the navy and never closer than 40 miles from Vietnam....2 were cooks in the Army that never heard a shot fired in anger and one was in the air force, refueling B-52s in thailand and all 6 woudl take 30-90 days off each 6 months each year since my company paid disablity for guys with POST TRAMATIC SYNDROME......nobody ever took time off until one new hired than was on in a non-combat re-supply company told the other guys to file for PTS disablity since he been doing it for 30yrs since the war ended and got atleast 2 months off with pay per year.

    MY younger brother was in car crash when he was 18yr old....in a coma for 3 weeks and parents signed a paper to take him off life support and yet once the machines was disconencted, he breathed on his own and now is a member of the board of regents of a major university with an IQ of 155......after playing football and making an average of 110 tackles per year......90% of them using his head/helmet.

    This article nothing more than CNN hype/lack of real news.

    February 21, 2011 at 22:08 | Report abuse | Reply
    • mr note

      The story about your younger brother being in a coma and recovering is amazing, my hats off to him. You're comments about vietnam vets seem more like opinion's stemming from some sort of prejudice, however. As to your remarks about High School Football, I would agree. I played and got beat up regularly and have no ill side effects. A couple of times I almost got my head taken off by players twice my size. However, this article is about NFL retirees, whose career (high school, college, and pro) have been spent receiving blows from NFL caliber players over long periods of time. You don't offer any experience or research in this regard, which renders your remarks on the topic irrellivent.

      February 21, 2011 at 23:02 | Report abuse |
    • Andy

      Pigsticker – I wonder where you got your medical degree and how many brains of deceased players you have dissected. Just because there are malingerers who fake PTSD doesn't mean that no one suffers from it. Because those you know haven't yet affected by any head injury (at least you can't see it) doesn't mean that others are not victims of CTE. Do some medical research on closed head trauma and get a bit smarter than you currently think you are.

      February 21, 2011 at 23:09 | Report abuse |
    • Brad DeHaven

      Thanks for the common sense by pigsticker! I share similar story as football player with a father who played in NFL. The only lasting effect after butting helmets and brutal blows has been the life-lessons I've learned about teamwork, discipline, leadership, and sucking it up when you get some mud in your face.
      Obviously there are can be legit effects and claims of injuries from time to time. But hey, we all make choices. If you don't want the risk play tennis. 🙂

      February 22, 2011 at 04:48 | Report abuse |
    • been there too

      you are very fortunate, but unfortunately that is not the case for everyone. if you read the article, you'll notice that the genetic disposition must also be present. my son is still experiencing problems after a severe concussion. while i am very happy for you that you have been so fortunate, it is dangerous to assume that because you did not experience ill effects – no one is.

      February 22, 2011 at 07:54 | Report abuse |
    • Jon C

      I'm glad your basis for all factual knowledge is determined by whether or not your family has survived through it.

      February 22, 2011 at 09:00 | Report abuse |
    • SteveinMN

      OK, clearly your strength is not in STATISTICS.

      You are speaking anectdotally with respect your extremely limited expereince; the docs who monitor the pros have seen hundreds of these guys, and they see a strong pattern you are not in a position, with your tiny sample set, to observe or, god help us, comment on.

      This is the same flawed logic that fuels up the global warming deniers (its snowing where I am, so the Earth can't be warming...).

      If you do not understand your perspective problem, perhaps you need to accept that those hits did more damage than you think.

      February 22, 2011 at 13:34 | Report abuse |
    • lance corporal

      of course your personal observations invalidate scientific study by professionals in the medical field...... what the F-ck is the deal with so many people that just can discard information? this is what's wrong with our politics, I THINK it so it MUST be true...... sheer idiocy.

      February 23, 2011 at 01:53 | Report abuse |
    • r_hope

      Not a bad....not bad at all for a budding scientist.
      Let's see... you have had DIRECT observation of your 2 brothers... and INDiRECT contact with 60 others.
      There are 500,000 high school football players. So the sample size for your direct observation is 2 in 0.5M...
      Wow... and with that you wrote a research paper, complete with a conclusion and we should take it as gospel truth? Never mind that the brain damage is only fully assessible after death...and your bros are still alive.

      Again, not bad for a wonna be scientist, but if I were you, I would try my hand on magic – you stand better chances.

      February 25, 2011 at 15:19 | Report abuse |
  11. Kingfisher

    Gotta give the credit to Bob Nelson... talking about football in the mid-80's gave me flashbacks from high school.

    The mind is a terrible thing.

    February 21, 2011 at 22:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. marc

    this NFL players union has to stop complaining like a bunch of pansies.. you get paid great amounts of money to play a game.. instead of wasting it at strip clubs and expensive cars with huge chrome rims why not save some of the money to account for future healthcare needs.. i think they have alot of nerve to bring this up all the time.. they chose to play football, if comes with the territory.. they get paid astronomically compared to other jobs like military servicemen..

    February 21, 2011 at 22:17 | Report abuse | Reply
    • We're Advancing... hopefully...

      ...and especially also TEACHERS. Military...

      February 22, 2011 at 01:08 | Report abuse |
    • CS3 Fan

      While I don't necessarily think the players are "pansies" I do agree that for the most part it doesn't seem as though any of them make a solid plan for after the last snap. There are a number of jobs that involve sacrificing your health (policeman, firefighters, coal miners, prison guards) and over a lifetime these arguably "nobler" positions bring in a fraction of what the NFL players' pull in during one season. The players should feel lucky they have the means to care for themselves.

      February 22, 2011 at 18:12 | Report abuse |
  13. marc

    players union is trying to make a case about the danger levels in the game of football to warrant an increase in pay.. gimme a break – the owners should decide what the players get point blank and if that isn't good enough than clean house and open tryouts for ppl who would play for 1 percent of what the current players get... maybe all the fans could go to watch 18 games a season without breaking their wallets cuz the owners have to charge an arm and a leg to pay for their operational costs of all kinds including player salaries and healthcare

    February 21, 2011 at 22:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Kent Bowen

    This kind of "news" is what's wrong with internet "reporting." This is not news, this is rumor-mongering speculation for the benefit of a headline.

    Re: It is unclear whether Duerson had the brain damage that can cause bizarre behavior and severe depression.

    It's equally unclear that he might have been depressed for any number of reasons and decided to end his life.

    Duerson may have brain damage due to his football playing days and I don't want to minimize that problem/issue. But until there is an autopsy and some evidence, it is irresponsible to speculate. Give me some good old-fashioned reporting with the facts, just the facts.

    February 21, 2011 at 22:28 | Report abuse | Reply
    • wellread

      Actully there are hundreds of articles validating the science of CTE. It has been scientifically proven to exist. Articles go back for several years detailing the finds and cases of CTE in retired football players as well as active football players. Calling this "not news" is irresponsible. The one good thing "news" provides is information abou things you might not have heard of before.

      The only reason that the current player is mentioned in regard to CTE is becasue he himself instructed his loved ones to donate his brain to the scienctific reserach that is going on at WVU and in Boston. I dont' believe that belittling science or the wishes of dead man are productive in any way, shape or form.

      February 22, 2011 at 13:05 | Report abuse |
    • madisoncnn

      Hi, Mr. Bowen

      The article clearly states that it's unclear whether Mr. Duerson had brain damage, but he appeared to be quite concerned about this possibility. This issue has been big in the NFL, which has been criticized for being too lax in dealing with the consequences of head blows.

      The information provided are reports about CTE, not speculation. Additionally, for readers who've wondered why there is so much interest in head injuries of football players, often perceived as overpaid, overindulged, please note that this type of research do not affect only athletes, but also soldiers and those in the military. Thanks for reading.

      February 23, 2011 at 14:38 | Report abuse |
  15. Wendy Testaburger

    No mention of Duerson's recent bankruptcy and what kind of stress that may have caused. I suppose since Duerson's plea fits the current meme of the NFL's investigation into hits to the head, no investigative journalism is needed. Keep it classy CNN.

    February 21, 2011 at 22:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. PRSjammer

    You call them hero's so they blindly smash each others brains in. I think they're brain damaged before they even play football. Maybe that's why they're always in trouble with the law.

    February 21, 2011 at 23:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. YoWorld

    They don't know enough about the brain. What they are finding out is that some people are more prone than others
    (genetically) towards serious effects of TBI's (Traumatic Brain Injury). Google TBI and the Boxing profession.
    These topics all relate.
    It has nothing to do with how "tough" a guy is, you just don't want your son to be condemned to a lifetime
    of being cheated out of a basic "quality of life."

    February 21, 2011 at 23:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Bathory

    This is not the REAL Football

    February 22, 2011 at 00:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Oodoodanoo

    I didn't believe any of this until I saw my team return from an away game in a short bus.

    February 22, 2011 at 00:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Brian

    Sometimes I wonder if football is even a sport. The game consists of fat men falling down and laying on top of each other while spectators swill beer. I guess it's a free country if that's what turns you on.

    February 22, 2011 at 00:50 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Dave C

      Probably the dumbest post I have ever read...

      February 22, 2011 at 06:08 | Report abuse |
    • CS3 Fan

      You haven't watched a game lately, have you Brian? These men are athletes, many of them incredibly talented. Take the time to understand the game and you may be suprised...and yes, swilling beer is part of the spectat'in and that's the way we like it!!

      February 22, 2011 at 18:16 | Report abuse |
    • Andre

      I am a very fast 200 pounder and my friends who are NFL linemen, all weighing over 320 pounds, are faster and more agile than I am. Get your facts straight – they are very talented athletes.

      February 23, 2011 at 01:29 | Report abuse |
  21. Mark

    It's just a flesh wound.....

    February 22, 2011 at 00:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. We're Advancing... hopefully...

    ... in terms of what we know or are learning as a result of these dangerous sports such as Football. Boxings another – just look at Ali.

    It's an Old World sport, we're in 2011, the game may have to change and probably will to some extent. Its just a brute sport and we're moving beyond that sort of archaic form of sports traditions because medical advances are occuring. We're becoming more aware is basically what I'm sayin'. Good night.

    February 22, 2011 at 01:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Chris J

    If the players don't want their brains smashed in, THEN STOP SMASHING EACH OTHERS BRAINS IN!!! Sheesh, don't blame the people in the suits up in the press box.

    February 22, 2011 at 02:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. StanAmerikanski

    Ir really is the modern version of the Roman games. We watch sacrifices of the modern gladiators. But we run out of lions and tigers 🙂 . Actually it is sad.

    February 22, 2011 at 03:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. dave

    I think they are confusing brain damage with lack of education due to skipping classes in high school and college.

    February 22, 2011 at 04:21 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Bob

      man, you are funny. Introductiing a fresh perspective that has an element of truth. At the same time irreverent. So you must be a young man between 16 and 24. Am I close?

      April 1, 2011 at 13:21 | Report abuse |
  26. bobbeh

    finally, an excuse for the reprehensible behaviour these thugs consistantly exhibit.

    February 22, 2011 at 04:30 | Report abuse | Reply
    • BigGameJames

      Is Larry Fitzgerald a thug? Google him. Knowing is half the battle!

      February 22, 2011 at 07:50 | Report abuse |
    • Robert

      Thugs? Do you really believe the "thugs" make up the the majority of the NFL? If you mean black athletes, because, who else is a thug, then you're absolutely wrong. You can say whatever you want bobbeh., Have you met ONE NFL player? Would you call him a THUG to his face. Doubt it. I have. I Played. You're comments are elementary at best.
      And since you are commenting on this story, I can imagine you and your fantasy "game" buddies drinking beer. Maybe driving? Maybe get mad at the wife? Maybe do things you wouldn't want us/CNN to know about.
      And what a man you are! Making these types of comments when a man dies? Let us all know when a family member of yours die, and let the thugs of CNN commentators loose on you.

      February 22, 2011 at 09:08 | Report abuse |
    • Irunman

      Most NFL players are college grads or at least have several years of college. If you look at the percentage of NFL players that have had run ins with the law and non-NFL college grads (accounting for the fact the majority of NFL players are Black), the football players get into a lot more trouble. People are justified to call them "thugs", especially when you consider the advantages of wealth as they can afford any sort of therapy or counseling they might need.

      The game is dangerous and we need to take steps to protect kids that play it, but nobody is forcing pro football players to play the game and collect their millions.

      February 24, 2011 at 03:06 | Report abuse |
  27. VelveteenLady

    This story is proof positive that people will do anything for money; and, that money is the reason this well-known issue has stayed on the down low for so long. I have absolutely no pity for those folks, who repeatedly subject their bodies to battering and abuse, all in the name of "sports." The only way to curb this is to remove the incentive ($$$). . . and that will NEVER happen. Let's put a helmet on 'em, that'll fix the problem. How stupid!

    February 22, 2011 at 06:05 | Report abuse | Reply
    • BigGameJames

      Steve Young, Hall of Fame QB and great grandson of Brigham Young. Yeah...that Brigham Young. You think he did it for money?

      February 22, 2011 at 07:53 | Report abuse |
    • Josh

      So you're saying that Steve Young turned down ALL salary offers, and worked for free?

      February 22, 2011 at 10:20 | Report abuse |
  28. Chilly

    Here's the issue with the NFL. The players are blinded by the high dollar contracts. Are these young kids really thinking about their future or the consequences of getting knocked in the head over and over when then have a high dollar contract in front of them? Without football, many of these players would be working for minimum wage as the only skill they have is football. Therefore, they play and have to accept the consequences 10, 20, 30 or more years later.

    I think the NFL should have a salary cap of $100k for ANY player. Then, let them make the decision as to whether they should play football, flip hamburgers, go into business, etc. All the NFL is is a money making machine. Management does not care about the person – it's all about the bottom line and how fat their wallets can get (one of their reasons I don't pump any of my money into the NFL). Now that all of the brain rattling is in the news, they have no choice but to respond. Time will tell how, but to me, a brain pendulum would not be in the cards and I would choose to do something else.

    February 22, 2011 at 07:13 | Report abuse | Reply
    • BigGameJames

      If you purchased any product that has been advertised during an NFL broadcast...sorry...but you pumped money. And if you say no even though Pepsi, Coke, McDonald's, Anhueser-Busch, GM, Toyota, M&M/Mars and multiple national and local brands advertise with the NFL...you're not being honest. Easy to TYPE the talk. Harder to walk it.

      February 22, 2011 at 07:47 | Report abuse |
    • Irunman

      Uhhh, pro football players are adults, they have to be at least "3 years removed from high school" to play, so that means they are at least about 20-22. They are not kids! Add to that most of them have been to college. They are smart enough to make a decision if the money is worth the potential for injury, perhaps being disabled for life. They have college educations, they are (theoretically) qualified for better jobs than flipping burgers. If they do not plan for the future after football, that is their fault; many people do not plan for the future or if they suddenly lose their jobs. Ben Roethlisberger makes $12,750,000 a year- for that I would let Haloti Ngata break my nose too LOL!

      February 24, 2011 at 03:23 | Report abuse |
  29. joemamma

    If it wasn't for football, I wouldn't be playin' football today.

    February 22, 2011 at 07:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. BigGameJames

    Wow!!! When did Americans become so hateful. A man is dead and all I read is he should've known the risk or they knew what they were getting into. Please. Who in the hell decides to play football and thinks one day this will kill me!? Nobody, that's who!!! Do their children know what they signed up for? Does that make it any better for them watching a loved one deteriorate right in front of them? 90% of these comments are rooted in jealousy because you weren't talented or lucky enough to play a professional sport. And we all know how SOME of you feel about African-Americans making large sums of money LEGALLY!? And everybody is always these perfect financial planners and would do EVERYTHING the "right" way if they had it! Easy to say. But HONESTLY: how many of you would pass up the ferrari or lamborghini if you actually knew you could buy it? How many of you wouldn't buy your parents a huge house? And finally, we always key on the guys who mess up with the fame and money. What about the good ones? The guys who give back to the community or use their status and wealth to make a difference? You don't talk about those guys. Oh yeah...it's the MEDIA's fault!! Yeah..right!!

    February 22, 2011 at 07:31 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Chilly

      Not so. I'm sure many NFL players think about the repercussions (or should that be concussions!!?) playing football will have on them down the road. Just like those who smoke. A smoker obviously knows it's bad for their health. However, they do it for the immediate gratification and disregard or make excuses as to what may happen (I've dealt with this with an immediate family member). Especially in the last few years, players have been educated on the effects impacts to the head have on them in the present as well as possible conditions in the future. They disregard them as they cannot see through the money. It's ALL about the money.

      And who mentioned anything about African Americans? Why bring the race card up?

      These players certainly should give back to their communities with the amount of money they are taking in. However, most are greedy and will end up blowing it soon after retiring, if not during their careers, as their marketable skill sets are very limited.

      February 22, 2011 at 08:11 | Report abuse |
    • John

      I can tell you that I am one parent who has kept his kids out of football because it is too violent. And my oldest is 8, 4'10" and 100 lbs. He would roll over most kids his age with ease. I don't want him taking hits, and I certainly don't want him delivering any.

      February 22, 2011 at 11:15 | Report abuse |
  31. katie

    I think they get paid enough to make it worth it. This isn't rocket science. This is one of those "duh" moments. Or is it, "here's your sign."

    February 22, 2011 at 07:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Will 18E

    For people who make 6 or seven figure incomes, and knowingly committing acts of physical violence against one another on the grid iron; so what. Duh, why should I care, they pretend to make them self role models, NOT, and chosen field of income. The have the freedom and liberty to stop at any moment, but the players, 99% of them, are addicted to the $$ and fame it brings them, for they can't get it elsewhere.

    February 22, 2011 at 07:52 | Report abuse | Reply
    • BigGameJames

      There is approximately 2000 players in the NFL. So according to your math about 1900 guys are in it just for the money or fame!? Generalize much?

      February 22, 2011 at 07:59 | Report abuse |
  33. Sue

    People, learn to use apostrophes correctly, incorrect examples: "You call them hero's", "seem more like opinion's stemming from some sort of prejudice", "some ex- football players have brain injury's" You don't make a plural noun by adding an apostrophe S. It's for contractions (won't, haven't, etc.) and for possessives (hero's helmet...) Also, not used in above posts, never use an apostrophe with a verb. Grammar lesson concluded. The fight for grammatical correctness continues.

    February 22, 2011 at 08:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Roger Dennoli, MD, PhD

    All the evidence will eventually point to the fact the NFL (and football) itself must be abolished.
    The size/speed of the players makes this a certainty.
    We are simply maiming people for sport or entertainment.

    February 22, 2011 at 08:17 | Report abuse | Reply


      Even if your stated ideal is correct and achieveable, we can still protect athletes in the interim. But I dont think it will be abolished. It is too popular.

      So it is about finding ways to make the game safer for players of all ages, not about abolishing the game, or saying that players arent well paid for their efforts.

      There are researchers (TBI, CTE) and companies like GelCool working to develop products that reduce the trauma, and as a result improve the player's lives.

      These blogs always break down into polarized arguments, but the issue isnt how much money players make – what about Pop Warner 8 year olds? They dont get paid – but they are extremely vulnerable to concussion. This is why the research and development happens – because the athletes arent spoiled rich people that some bloggers despise, but the athletes are kids, parents (NFL players), brothers and so on.

      February 23, 2011 at 01:34 | Report abuse |
    • Marvin8

      Hate to agree with you, but I must.
      BOTH football and boxing are made for brain bashing, and the increased size, strength, and speed of the players has only made things worse. Now if the thickness of one's skull increased proportionately with size..... 😀
      Truthfully, these two sports shouldn't even exist any more. The only purpose they serve nowadays is to distract from the pressing problems of the day, and I think that is intentional. Same goes for prime time sitcoms. 😀

      February 24, 2011 at 17:27 | Report abuse |
  35. morrow

    I was there. I saw it.

    February 22, 2011 at 08:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Chris

    They are out entertainment. They should just shut up and hit each other as hard as possible. Right?

    February 22, 2011 at 08:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Dr Bill Toth

    I wonder what the incidence of conscussion and/or brain injury is in Rugby? With all the attention on helmets and equipment, maybe the "answer" is no equipment??? Live With Intention, DrBillToth.com/blog

    February 22, 2011 at 08:35 | Report abuse | Reply
    • John

      Good point. The more protected they are, the more invincible they feel.

      February 22, 2011 at 11:21 | Report abuse |
  38. Michael

    Come on people! this is common sense... why are we surprised to hear athletes who spend their lives smashing heads together have brain injuries? It took 20 years to realize this? Unfortunately, I have no sympathy for those who choose to play such an idiotic sport.

    February 22, 2011 at 08:43 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Josh

      I agree 100%. Plus add that they went into their profession with full knowledge of the physical abuse all parts of their bodies will endure (hay, its a contact sport ! ).

      And they were paid quit handsomely for it.

      February 22, 2011 at 10:18 | Report abuse |
  39. Peter R

    Actually a TV show in Canada call W-5 did a story about five years ago on brain injuries to CFL, NFL players and WWE Wrestlers. A university in Ontario has many of the brains of these athletes and found that they all had identical damage in the same areas of the brain. All of these guys were fairly normal and good people then either got depression or did things beyond the norm like suicide or killing family members (WWE Beniot killed his wife and child).

    February 22, 2011 at 08:51 | Report abuse | Reply
    • James

      Not to disparage the people or to use too large a brush or tar everybody, but what about the correlation of performance enhancing drugs and unpredictable/violent behavior as well. I thought the Chris Benoit was considered to be steroid related. And while yes, some of these may be a result of brain injury from a Trauma, what about physical trauma plus performance enhancing drugs and maybe a predisposition to violence. No race card, but a somewhat violent person is required to regularly and on command perform a violent act.

      February 22, 2011 at 14:05 | Report abuse |
  40. MaryB

    This is type of injury is sad. I LOVE football like most people posting! How can football be made "safer" for the players? I know some doctors are saying "abolish the sport", but young boys are not going to give up on a dream of playing in the NFL because of this. Especially if they are talented. CTE is not just limited to football players. What other sports is this common in? Soccer, field hockey, ice hockey, etc.... Let's try to make sports safer!

    February 22, 2011 at 09:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Doug

    look, i'm sorry that dave had to die this way, but the man knew he needed help, and still decided to do this and leave his family.

    February 22, 2011 at 09:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Dave

    The article say that some middle aged ex-NFL'ers suffer from "memory loss, depression and sudden, frightening bouts of rage." I'm 49 years old, I never played in the NFL or got hit in the head. And I occassionaly suffer from memory loss, mild depression and bouts of rage. Maybe it's a middle-age thing and not a football thing.

    February 22, 2011 at 09:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Elizabeth

    He probably had brain damage, but the night he killed himself, he might have had the flu, or a reaction to a medication, and thought he was losing it all at once. Even with brain damage, people can receive various kinds of therapy (which, in this case, the NFL should pay for). What I see here is the major DEPRESSION that brain problems cause, and the depression should be treated first. In this case, the usual drugs may not do it. America is about to cut funding to every form of help and support for mental health; this is a very bad time with all the vets who need it. Maybe private organizations, such as sports franchises, could pay America back by giving a helping hand, not just to their own players, but to all of America. It is political, because without mental health support, many people will commit suicide.

    February 22, 2011 at 09:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Josh

    Aren't' NFL players paid rather hefty salaries, as compensation for the "toll" infected on their bodies for playing professional football? In other words, they very willingly sold their brains to the NFL.

    They can't go back after retirement, and now claim they are somehow owed something. They got their lucrative salaries. Now live with the damage to their bodies.

    February 22, 2011 at 10:15 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Pat

      Try reading the American History book that was provided for the class you slept through. It talked about times past where employers were allowed to place employees under no limit of harm or humiliation so long as they were paid. Those practices were banished in the 20th century and people went to jail for it. Here in the 21st century, it is considered criminal behavior. Now try to keep up, things move pretty quickly...

      February 22, 2011 at 12:25 | Report abuse |
  45. bailoutsos

    What about boxing?

    February 22, 2011 at 12:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Pat

    “We have no idea whether he had the disease,” said Dr. Robert Stern,a co-director of Boston University’s Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy.
    If Dr Stern is not lying, then Boston University’s Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy is a quack farm, and should be shut down immediately before it causes further harm to public health.

    February 22, 2011 at 12:22 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Chris R

      They have no idea because they haven't studied the brain yet. He's speaking accurately and precisely. After they have studied the brain they will be able to speak on it. Until then they really have no idea. Do want doctors to start diagnosing diseases in people they haven't even met?

      February 22, 2011 at 15:48 | Report abuse |
  47. Sarah in Texas

    How tragic. Poor guy.

    February 22, 2011 at 12:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. abby

    Football: 22 people with brains vulnerable to trauma on the field at the same time + repeated concussions + $$$$ the team owners, players make = irreparable brain damage

    February 22, 2011 at 12:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Orville


    OK, 5 minutes later....no like, next story.....

    February 22, 2011 at 12:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. BBER

    There was a good article in The New Yorker a few months back. It's really sad to see what happens to some of these players. In the article they say that the damage to brains is really from practice sessions where there is continuous trauma over and over again without recovery.

    Dave Duerson rest in peace....

    February 22, 2011 at 13:25 | Report abuse | Reply
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