Chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE is the disease of the brain attributed to consistent trauma to the brains of athletes, particularly NFL players. It’s latest victim is NFL Hall-Of-Famer Tony Dorsett who admits he’s had suicidal thoughts and suffers with the erratic behavior attributed to the disease:
In an interview with ESPN’s Outside The Lines he spoke about his condition:
“It’s painful, man, for my daughters to say they’re scared of me. I’ve thought about crazy stuff, sort of like, ‘Why do I need to continue going through this?’” he said. “I’m too smart of a person, I like to think, to take my life, but it’s crossed my mind.”
CTE, well examined in the League of Denial documentary exposed the causes and effects of CTE, and a the recent lawsuit settled by the NFL with former players only further underscores the need for increased testing and research to treat those who are suffering.
I can’t imagine how it feels to be aware of your inability to control yourself. At this age, and with his accomplishments, Dorsett should be enjoying the fruits of his labor, not be punished by them. As more and more data emerges about CTE and its effects on players, I’m concerned about how it will shape the nature of the game.
Football, by nature is a tough sport. It is in fact the hard hitting nature of the game that draws fans and excites the crowd. All too often, however, the overall long-term impact of the game is put in the shadows. When players retire, they move on. We don’t hear from them or about them unless they pop up as analysts on Sports Center or some other sports-related venue. We only see the healthy players. Those who were seemingly unscathed from the game. They look good, sometimes better than they did when they were playing, and with no signs of trauma, they become the face of the game.
The dark, ugly faces of addiction to pain killers, depression and now CTE needs to be brought to the light. While I’m happy the players got their settlement (which let the NFL off the hook), I’m sad to see so many victims. I hope treatment comes soon.
Your Jersey Girlfriend,