By Ken Reed
T.J. Abraham worked hard at football while an offensive lineman at Duquense University. He worked so hard that he got his “bell rung” upwards of 70 times.
After his football career ended, he worked hard at being an obstetrics & gynecology doctor, sometimes putting in 100-hour work weeks.
Today, the now 42-year-old is retired because his brain doesn’t work properly. His official diagnosis is neurodegenerative dementia but his doctors in Boston, Philadelphia and California believe it is very likely he is suffering from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), the degenerative brain disease linked to repetitive trauma to the head. (The average college football player experiences 800-1,000 blows to the head during a single season, according to Boston University’s CTE center.) CTE can only be officially confirmed via autopsy.
There’s no cure for Abraham. His condition (temper tantrums, memory loss, judgment lapses, etc.) is only going to worsen. Along with dealing with the pain of knowing he will gradually continue to deteriorate physically and mentally, Abraham is having to deal with the emotional pain of knowing he won’t be there for his kids as they grow up.
“My daughter asks me: ‘Daddy, is your brain getting better?’” says Abraham. “And my heart breaks because I know the answer is no.”
Abraham spends some of his time these days fighting to get youth football banned, despite the enjoyment the sport brought him as a player and coach.
“I do not want to see anyone lose what I’ve lost or experience this disease,” wrote Abraham in his testimony for a New York State Assembly hearing on youth football. “I strongly urge you to ban tackle football at the age of 12 and younger in the state of New York.”
Abraham is a young man who can’t remember his wedding or the birth of his daughter. He can no longer help people through his chosen profession. But he’s hoping his efforts to ban youth football will help others avoid his fate.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
- "How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
- Ken Reed's Author Page on Amazon
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
A League of Fans Special Report