• Sumo

By Ken Reed

Stories about chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) often read like medical journal articles. There’s very little humanity in them.

Too often, talking about brain trauma and CTE seems like a theoretical discussion at an academic conference.

But sadly, CTE and its effects on family members and friends is very real.

I recently posted a blog entry about a recent study revealing that 99% of brains (110 of 111 studied) donated by families of former NFL players have CTE.

But that study didn’t talk about the impact CTE has on people’s lives. A new long piece by Jimmy Golden does.

“You watch the life go out of someone’s eyes,” said Lise Hudson, wife of former New York Jet Jim Hudson.

CTE can cause memory loss, wild mood swings, depression and a variety of other neurological problems. The degenerative brain disease is caused by repetitive brain trauma.

“You feel like you got cheated out of some of the best years of your life, not having your father,” said Ollie Matson, Jr., the son of the Hall of Fame running back, who barely spoke for the last four years of his life.

One of the insidious parts of this disease is that the symptoms tend to come on gradually (although several high school and college football players have been diagnosed, one as young as 18 years old).

Mike Keating, nephew of former Oakland Raiders defensive tackle Tom Keating, had this to say:

“I’d be very, very concerned if I was a professional football player who had concussions or head hits and I’m 40 years old and I’m saying, ‘I’m fine.’ That’s not how this movie’s going to end.”

Baseball is America’s national pastime. Football is America’s national passion. As such, football isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. It’s a free country and adults playing the game in college and at the professional level are free to make their own decisions about participation. Same is true of the parents who allow their children to play youth and high school tackle football.

But let’s make sure that we, as a society, provide these players and parents all the information possible about the potential consequences of repetitive brain trauma from playing football. The same goes for hockey, soccer and other activities that involve blows to the head.

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans

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