NFL Legend Tony Dorsett Has Severe Brain Damage; He’s Just One of Many

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BY:  John “Hennry” Harris

In the wake of a string of former NFL players committing suicide and a class-action lawsuit filed against the NFL by 4,500 plaintiffs, arguing that for years the NFL concealed a link between football and brain damage, the subject of concussions remains in the national consciousness.

UCLA has a new procedure that has marked the first time doctors can identify signs of the crippling disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative condition many scientists say is caused by head trauma and linked to depression and dementia, in the living.


Doctors have told ESPN’s “Outside The Lines” that Pro Football Hall of Famers Tony Dorsett and Joe DeLamielleure, and former NFL All-Pro Leonard Marshall have been diagnosed as having signs of CTE.

The three former stars have spent the last three months at UCLA undergoing brain scans and clinical evaluations which revealed a buildup of tau, an abnormal protein that strangles brain cells in areas that control memory, emotions and other functions.  Before, the only way to identify CTE was through post-death autopsies, which were performed on more than 50 ex-NFL players, including Hall of Famer Mike Webster and All-Pro Junior Seau, who committed suicide last year.  The tests revealed such tau concentrations.  Diagnosing CTE in the living is a promising step that can help doctors develop a treatment.

Hall of Famer and former Dallas Cowboy running back Tony Dorsett shared with “Outside the Lines” the symptoms that led him to seek testing:  memory loss, depression and suicidal thoughts.

Dorsett, 59, who had a 12-year playing career, said he struggled to remember why he was on his October 21 flight to Los Angeles for testing and where he was going.  Dorsett says that this is common when he travels and his home life is worsening as he is prone to outbursts at his wife and daughters.

“It’s painful, man, for my daughters to say they’re scared of me.” After a long pause, he tearfully reiterated, “It’s painful.”

Dorsett does not know how many concussions he has suffered, but acknowledges that they are numerous and wants answers to explain his cognitive and emotional difficulties.

“My quality of living has changed drastically and it deteriorates every day,” he said.

Joe DeLameilleure, 62, played in the NFL for 13-years as an offensive lineman for the Bills and Browns, and believes that between games and practices he has endured tens of thousands of blows to his head and has had at least 100 concussions.

DeLameilleure told OTL,  “I can guarantee you my CTE, my tau, came from hits, came from blows to the head.”


DeLameilleure’s symptoms include:  anxiety, chronic insomnia, and like Dorsett, mood swings and suicidal thoughts.

“When I sit still for any length of time, I get depressed for no reason,” DeLamielleure said. “I have CTE. Let’s see what the heck we can do about it.”

Now that doctors can detect CTE in living individuals they are optimistic and excited about the potential of finding treatments and possibly even a cure.  The NFL still declines to comment except for asserting that there is not enough evidence to link football and CTE or other brain damage.  The NFL denied the consequences of concussions for years, disputing research from accomplished doctors, until the league reversed its position in 2009, acknowledging a scientific connection between football and long-term brain damage.

 

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11 Responses to NFL Legend Tony Dorsett Has Severe Brain Damage; He’s Just One of Many

  1. Let’s pray those in the medical profession can develop a cure for this, and other brain-related diseases before Mr. Dorsett and his fellow NFL alums suffer a continously worsening lifestyly, die, or commit suicide.

    Eustace Greaves Jr
    November 8, 2013 at 2:28 am
    Reply

  2. Man I love Jim Brown for walking away from the Game & not Limping away from the Game Wise Move Brother Jim Brown & all the Old NFL Greats I loved you all Growing Up & you all are part of the Reason I stayed out of Trouble Thanks for Everything you gave to others & to the Game! May Allah Bless you All & find a treatment for this!

    Ish Muhammad
    November 8, 2013 at 5:19 am
    Reply

  3. Love you Mr. Dorsett.

    corbin56
    November 8, 2013 at 6:27 am
    Reply

  4. Normally…I would feel sorry! I met this dude in the summer of 1986, he was so rude to me! Tony was withMatt Millen at my school visiting. Matt was awesome, Tony was a diva! Good luck to him and GOD Bless him! But this is not my concern. When ur born in this world, u have choices, I choose to do what’s right, and I fight hard to do so. I’m not sure why these people think just because they’re rich, that rules don’t apply to them. U will die like the rest of us! We’re all the same, no more, no less!

    Butch
    November 8, 2013 at 6:59 am
    Reply

    • OK, so you caught him on a bad day. Get over it. I don’t see your point about doing things right. What is the wrong that he did? Maybe he was rude on that day, but you can’t look at one moment and build a lifetime judgment against someone. What rules are you referring to? You sound like a spoiled brat who just wants to spout off at someone else’s misfortune. Hope you feel really good about yourself.

      tiamette
      November 8, 2013 at 1:36 pm
      Reply

  5. Butch is right. A little cold–but right.

    Harold
    November 8, 2013 at 11:44 am
    Reply

  6. I am a lifelong Cowboys fan and loved to watch Tony play. I am praying that the doctors will be able to find a treatment plan for him. I have a grandson who loves football and am trying to convince his parents to wait until he is older (he is 9) before he plays.

    tiamette
    November 8, 2013 at 1:30 pm
    Reply

  7. Yes, Yes Tony Dorsett along with so many great players are in my thoughts and Prayers,and hoping that the Doctors will find a cure soon.

    Karen C. Jackson
    November 8, 2013 at 2:03 pm
    Reply

  8. AS S CHILD TONY D. WAS MY FAVORITE PLAYER. WITHOUT A DOUBT. COMING OUT THE UNIV. OF PITTSBURGH., WINNING THE HEISMAN THEN THE SUPER BOWL WITH THE COWBOYS AND HAVING MY INITIALS ‘TD’ I LUVED THIS CAT. AND HIS RUNNING STYLE WAS SO SMOOTH AND UNIQUE TONY D. WAS MY ALL-TIME FAVORITE. THIS HURTS MAN BIG TIME!

    TIMM DAWG
    November 9, 2013 at 10:29 pm
    Reply

  9. This is not limited to football players. I think anyone, who has had an injury to the head, may experience these symptoms.
    Car accident. falls, or just getting hit by a swing.
    Children fall off the swings, merry -go-rounds, trees, bicycles and so many other playground rides.
    When we think of all the injuries that come from contact sports, we probably have many more people suffering.
    Most doctors say, it is a part of getting older, or in women, menopause.
    Sometimes, in men, it is considered mid-life crisis.

    Whatever the reason, these are serious symptoms.
    Prayers for Mr. Dorsett and all who are suffering any type of illness that has an effect on the basic mind, body and spirit. Sometimes, the symptoms can be treated if diagnosed early. Often it is has gone beyond the initial stage. Please seek medical help, if you are experiencing any of these symptoms. Doctors are pill pushers, but sometimes the medicine can save your life.

    Prayers
    November 10, 2013 at 12:34 am
    Reply

  10. PRAY AND PRAY some more!!!!

    LOU WALKER
    November 12, 2013 at 12:03 am
    Reply

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