home
RSS
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 (844 Responses)
  1. RV Shades Orange County

    I couldn’t refrain from commenting. Very well written!

    http://proekt-gaz.ru/go?https://customcampervans.com

    April 23, 2021 at 17:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. FbsfEncox

    Tenormin http://uspharmus.com/ canadian pharmacy viagra

    April 23, 2021 at 22:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. BbdfMile

    vietnamese viagra 5 foods https://gensitecil.com/ – viagra mechanism of action over the counter female viagra

    April 24, 2021 at 01:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. JbsdEncox

    Bystolic http://onlinecanda21.com/ drug prices comparison

    April 24, 2021 at 05:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. oc vacuum

    An intriguing discussion is worth comment. There's no doubt that that you need to publish more on this topic, it might not be a taboo subject but usually people do not speak about such topics. To the next! Kind regards!!

    https://mclast.de/redirect/?url=http://ocrvcenter.com/rv-repair-shop-calabasas-highlands-california/

    April 24, 2021 at 10:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. RV Camera California

    http://weblaunch.blifax.com/listener3/redirect?l=824869f0-503b-45a1-b0ae-40b17b1fc71e&id=2c604957-4838-e311-bd25-000c29ac9535&u=https://burnoutinsegnanti.com/maltrattamenti-a-scuola-se-per-il-giudice-lo-scappellotto-diventa-percossa/

    April 24, 2021 at 10:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. LhdvZisse

    buy cialis in canada http://asciled.com/ cialis drug

    April 24, 2021 at 15:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. AbdgEncox

    Levitra with Dapoxetine http://canadianeve21.com/ – Elavil canadian drug store

    April 24, 2021 at 15:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. FbsfEncox

    pharmacies http://uspharmus.com/ canada pharmaceuticals online

    April 24, 2021 at 17:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. RV Mechanics Los Angeles

    http://alqlist.com/Click_Counter.asp?URL=http://ocrv.us

    April 24, 2021 at 22:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. houses for sale harrison idaho

    http://www.google.fm/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://meganleary.com

    April 24, 2021 at 23:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Forklift Tires

    http://www.toolsir.com/alexa/siteinfo/wildwestlifttrucks.com/corona-forklifts/

    April 25, 2021 at 03:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. BbdfMile

    viagra ads https://gensitecil.com/ – viagra for woman what happens when women take viagra

    April 25, 2021 at 12:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. RfvbZisse

    online doctor cialis https://cileve.com/ cialis generic 20mg

    April 25, 2021 at 17:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. LrbsEncox

    levitra prices walmart https://uslevitraanna.com/ levitra side effects long term

    April 26, 2021 at 00:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. interstate collision center

    http://filelink.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=ocrvcenter.com/rv-remodeling-near-me

    April 26, 2021 at 00:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. RV Interior Designer Los Angeles

    Good post. I learn something new and challenging on blogs I stumbleupon every day. It's always helpful to read articles from other authors and practice something from their web sites.

    http://yellowpages.cantonrep.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=andynovianto.com/memberi-manfaat-dan-dampak-lebih/

    April 26, 2021 at 01:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. GvdbCrulk

    tadalafil metabolism http://boxtadafil.com/ – tadalafil canada 20mg cheap tadalafil 60 mg

    April 26, 2021 at 06:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. LhdvZisse

    generic cialis https://asciled.com/ cialis cheap

    April 27, 2021 at 08:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. realtors kellogg idaho

    Very good info. Lucky me I ran across your site by chance (stumbleupon). I've bookmarked it for later!

    http://home.palbeck.de/links_partner.php?site=http3A2F2Fmeganleary.com

    April 27, 2021 at 21:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. realtor companies around me

    This page truly has all of the information I needed concerning this subject and didn’t know who to ask.

    http://www.rakowanderson.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=www.meganleary.com

    April 27, 2021 at 22:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. LrbsEncox

    levitra manufacturer cost of levitra at walmart pharmacy viagra cialis levitra comparison

    April 28, 2021 at 19:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. JbsdEncox

    birth control https://onlinecanda21.com/ online canadian discount pharmacy

    April 29, 2021 at 01:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. RfvbZisse

    google south africa cialis https://cileve.com/ – cialis cost nz cialis au

    April 29, 2021 at 10:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. GvdbCrulk

    tadalafil dose https://boxtadafil.com/ – tadalafil generic canada 20 cialis mg tadalafil

    April 30, 2021 at 15:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. LhdvZisse

    buy genereiccialis http://asciled.com/ cialis 20 mg dosage

    May 1, 2021 at 09:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. JbsdEncox

    Celebrex https://onlinecanda21.com/ best 10 online canadian pharmacies

    May 1, 2021 at 17:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. FbsfEncox

    Bupron SR [url=https://uspharmus.com/ ]Levitra Soft[/url] canadian mail order pharmacies

    May 1, 2021 at 21:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. RfvbZisse

    cialis professional vs cialis super active http://cileve.com/ cialis online melbourne

    May 2, 2021 at 17:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. AbdgEncox

    pharmacy without dr prescriptions http://canadianeve21.com/ Strattera

    May 2, 2021 at 18:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. FbsfEncox

    Tofranil https://uspharmus.com/ Rumalaya

    May 2, 2021 at 21:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. RebfZisse

    cialis canada price https://rcialisgl.com/ cialis, generic

    May 4, 2021 at 11:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. online marketing training

    http://brentthomascoaches.com/NavigationMenu/SwitchView?Mobile=False&ReturnUrl=http3A2F2Fmenmastermind.com

    May 4, 2021 at 15:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. BbshMile

    viagra mg https://loxviagra.com/ viagra and cialis

    May 4, 2021 at 15:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Page Eye Center

    https://images.google.com.ng/url?sa=i&source=web&rct=j&url=https://eyedoctorphoenixaz.com

    May 4, 2021 at 16:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. aika online download

    Great article! We are linking to this great article on our website. Keep up the good writing.

    https://www.google.cc/url?q=https://aikareborn.com

    May 4, 2021 at 18:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. aika online private server

    https://clients1.google.so/url?sa=t&url=https://aikareborn.com

    May 4, 2021 at 20:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. aika online review

    https://images.google.lt/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://aikareborn.com

    May 4, 2021 at 21:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. FmrfEncox

    cialis with dapoxetine https://cialisee.com/ cialis 20 mg

    May 4, 2021 at 21:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. JebgEncox

    canada drugs northwest pharmacy canada canadian pharmacies that are legit

    May 4, 2021 at 22:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. online leadership training

    http://www.internout.net/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=www.masteringthemanwithin.com

    May 5, 2021 at 05:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Corneal Refractive Therapy

    Excellent post. I certainly appreciate this site. Stick with it!

    http://google.im/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://sunglasseseyedoctorsoptometristphoenixaz.com

    May 5, 2021 at 08:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. toyota truck repair

    Howdy! This post couldn’t be written much better! Looking through this article reminds me of my previous roommate! He constantly kept preaching about this. I will forward this information to him. Pretty sure he will have a very good read. I appreciate you for sharing!

    http://www.hudsonheart.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=www.fleetservicesorangecounty.com

    May 5, 2021 at 09:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. LbsoZisse

    order cialis online cheap generic https://ucialisdas.com/ – cialis20mg buy cialis online free shipping

    May 5, 2021 at 12:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. BbshMile

    canadian pharmacy ezzz viagra http://loxviagra.com/ viagra pfizer

    May 5, 2021 at 14:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. semi truck tire repair near my location

    https://maps.google.sn/url?sa=i&url=https://fleetrepairshops.com

    May 5, 2021 at 19:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. dunkin near me

    https://www.sunzu.com/link/?url=http://www.ocrvmotorcoaches.com

    May 5, 2021 at 19:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. AnooEncox

    viagra rings https://llviagra.com/ – potencializar o efeito do viagra amor e outras drogas viagra

    May 5, 2021 at 19:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. FmrfEncox

    fast delivery cialis super active https://cialisee.com/ – cialis online canadian pharmacy cialis discussion forum

    May 5, 2021 at 23:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. RV Fabrication Near Me

    You made some good points there. I looked on the internet for additional information about the issue and found most people will go along with your views on this site.

    https://maps.google.bg/url?q=j&source=web&rct=j&url=https3A2F2Focrv.store&sa=D&sntz=1&usg=AFQjCNGaY_nlK9ozc51fqwjiVdMaYZL7rg

    May 6, 2021 at 01:18 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16

Leave a Reply to FbshEncox


 

CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

Advertisement
About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.