Skip to content

Brains of Tony Dorsett, others show signs of CTE

Getty Images

Pro Football Hall of Fame running back Tony Dorsett had his brain scanned and evaluated at UCLA recently because he’d been experiencing symptoms like memory loss and depression that made him worried about the cumulative effect “that has come about because of playing football.”

Similar complaints led Hall of Fame guard Joe DeLamielleure and former defensive end Leonard Marshall to take similar tests and the players and doctors told ESPN’s Outside the Lines that tests have found signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy in the brains of all three men. CTE is a degenerative brain condition that has been found in the brains of many former football players and has been linked by some to the head trauma that those players experienced on the football field.

All three players, who were plantiffs in the concussion lawsuit against the league, described similar symptoms in regard to memory loss and erratic behaviors and said they hoped that the diagnosis and the work of researchers would lead to treatment that will lead to better days ahead. Dorsett said he gets lost taking his daughters to their activities and talked openly about the deterioration he’s felt in his quality of life.

“It’s painful, man, for my daughters to say they’re scared of me. It’s painful,” Dorsett said. “I’ve thought about crazy stuff, sort of like, ‘Why do I need to continue going through this? I’m too smart of a person, I like to think, to take my life, but it’s crossed my mind.”

There is no cure for CTE, but researchers are hopeful that the newly discovered cases will help them make progress toward treatment in the future because finding evidence of the disease in living people gives them opportunities to find out which approaches might provide the most relief.

Permalink 31 Comments Feed for comments Latest Stories in: Rumor Mill, Top Stories
31 Responses to “Brains of Tony Dorsett, others show signs of CTE”
  1. steelersaregodsteam says: Nov 7, 2013 7:14 AM

    Oh, well.

  2. buddypuddy says: Nov 7, 2013 7:17 AM

    Extremely sad. Dorsett was such a dynamic player and human being. I feel guilty I got so much pleasure out of so much punishment.

  3. raiderlyfe510 says: Nov 7, 2013 7:28 AM

    Just imagine if Tom Landry gave him about 10 more carries a game like Dorsett wanted.

  4. doctorrustbelt says: Nov 7, 2013 7:29 AM

    Soccer will overtake football in U.S. popularity by 2032.

  5. doctorrustbelt says: Nov 7, 2013 7:29 AM

    I’m not celebrating…. I am just stating a fact.

  6. jjb0811 says: Nov 7, 2013 7:38 AM

    Get well Tony.

  7. Jikky Jax says: Nov 7, 2013 7:58 AM

    Somebody might want to check Jeff Ireland…

  8. jbaxt says: Nov 7, 2013 8:00 AM

    Are they going to check the brain of the guy that lived to be 101, or is that counterproductive?

  9. wwwmattcom says: Nov 7, 2013 8:02 AM

    Best course of treatment is prevention.

    my kids aren’t playing football

  10. honkeyt says: Nov 7, 2013 8:17 AM

    It is time to shut the NFL down.

  11. leatherhelmets says: Nov 7, 2013 8:17 AM

    This ain’t going away folks.

  12. dirtysoufsavage says: Nov 7, 2013 8:40 AM

    That’s some scary stuff. His family needs to get all guns out of the house, and suicide proof the home as much as possible. Its time to take precautions. How long until he is not able to rationalize like he is now?

  13. crubenst says: Nov 7, 2013 8:42 AM

    If players were really concerned and serious about it, they would be leading the way on HGH testing. Ridiculously big people running at ridiculously high rates of speed and colliding with each other equals brain damage.

  14. crownofthehelmet says: Nov 7, 2013 8:43 AM

    The title reads a little weird. How about The Brain of TD and others….

  15. aldavisisthenfl says: Nov 7, 2013 9:31 AM

    You also have to factor into this story that this dude went bankrupt…….so I’m sure he’s going to exploit this situation for as large a payday as possible….

  16. philyeagles5 says: Nov 7, 2013 10:17 AM

    Why feel guilty? It’s the life he chose. It’s funny how all these guys blame football, but never themselves.

  17. strongmackn says: Nov 7, 2013 10:24 AM

    I wonder if these conditions also affect Ireland and Incognito

  18. chargrz says: Nov 7, 2013 12:41 PM

    Dorsett has a brain?

  19. nyjetsfan08 says: Nov 7, 2013 1:07 PM

    It’s Tony Romo’s fault.

  20. cometkazie says: Nov 7, 2013 1:53 PM

    jjb0811 says:
    Nov 7, 2013 7:38 AM
    Get well Tony.

    Sadly, that won’t happen as this condition is irreversible.

    It comes from repeated trauma to the head. Obviously, helmets don’t help in the long run. Prevention has to include no head trauma and that means doing away with football.

  21. boltschick says: Nov 7, 2013 2:01 PM

    The more I read about this brain damage that occurs in football, the harder it becomes to enjoy. It’s like watching people slitting their wrists.

    More must be done to make this sport less destructive to the players.

  22. tombstone7 says: Nov 7, 2013 2:06 PM

    While I have lots of empathy for TD, I am struggling with feeling that the career he chose or chosed him is totally the fault of the NFL,

    As an analogy, if I was an underwater welding engineer and spent 20 years doing that work and then retire, I may have a hard time trying to prevail in a lawsuit. I chose a career that pay me rather handsomely and retired only to have an exam that discover that my lungs have shrunk and I now need the assistance of a respirator. My quality of life has gone down.

    As Hyman Roth said to Michael Corleone in Godfather II when Michael questioned him about the killing of one of his Mafioso bosses, “it’s the life we have chosen! No questions, we don’t like it, but it’s was about business. Not personal. Mo’ Greene was killed and Hyman Roth accepted it because it was the business.

    TD, you were great and I do pray for all ofyou who are suffering, but when the money was flowing, did you think of saving for a rainy day and health care later in life? Probably not, but best wishes to you and all the other litigants in the lawsuit!

  23. SparkyGump says: Nov 7, 2013 2:09 PM

    Put the padding on the helmets on the outside of the helmets as well.

  24. agent009neo says: Nov 7, 2013 2:24 PM

    Drew Brees demands an explanation!!

  25. sportnorcal says: Nov 7, 2013 2:25 PM

    Truly unfortunate, and I wish these men the best.

    But to pretend like the PLAYERS themselves had no idea that smashing into each other a few times a week for a living had no detrimental effect on their bodies is a complete joke. It’s why they were paid a very disproportionate amount of money for their CHOSEN profession.

    I don’t really see steel workers blaming the steel companies when they fall to their deaths. Surfers dont sue the board companies when they drown.

    Do crab fisherman blame others when they lose digits, limbs, lives?

    Stop playing the blame game.

  26. black43gold says: Nov 7, 2013 2:53 PM

    boltschick says:
    Nov 7, 2013 2:01 PM
    The more I read about this brain damage that occurs in football, the harder it becomes to enjoy. It’s like watching people slitting their wrists.

    More must be done to make this sport less destructive to the players.

    More has been done, especially since Goodell took over as commissioner. Remember that players like Dorsett played in the “glory days” of the NFL, when guys like Ronnie Lott and Mel Blount were flying around knocking dudes out consistently, while wearing helmets that were far inferior to the ones they have now. Just an example, but the point is that the players of that era are now finding out these health issues, and the complications are a bi-product of the quality of equipment and the style of play and hitting that was typical of that era.

    It’s not surprising that when guys that played in the 70s are suffering serious mental issues, and some are suing the league, everyone wants to say the game is too dangerous… Maybe it was back then, hence the rule changes and equipment improvements in recent decades. The targeting rules that Goodell has been putting in place the last couple years have been, in my opinion, too extreme and inconsistently called. They also have been hastily put in place, with little clarity. All resulting from the recent lawsuits from RETIRED players that haven’t played for decades. If we look back in 30 years at players from the late 90s through now, I bet there are hardly any cases like Dorsett’s. The injuries result from the acceptable style of play, and guys like Dorsett played at a time when the sport was basically tailor-made for head hunters.

  27. returntoexcellence says: Nov 7, 2013 2:54 PM

    And what about our military men and women who go in to ACTUAL battle for barely any money and have nobody to sue… what do their brains show?

  28. judsonjr says: Nov 7, 2013 3:15 PM

    To be honest the study I would like to see done is to compare NFL’ers to other people who from age 20 to 40:

    – Lived the high life
    – Made a disproportionate amount of money
    – Suddenly had to leave their job and lifestyle and return to normal one

    As a person like this gets older they become more aware of their own mortality, and that they are no longer the unstoppable force that they once were.

    I don’t doubt that CTE isn’t a good thing, but some of the symptoms like depression and forgetfulness could be caused by other factors.

  29. logast says: Nov 7, 2013 3:15 PM

    A couple of months ago, Tony Dorsett and Tim Brown were in studio guests, for a local sports talk radio show in my market. Now, knowing full well of Dorsett’s views and past declarations, I was expecting him to speak about his plight.

    Instead, the conversation turned to the offensive player using the helmet as a weapon rule. I couldn’t believe my ears to hear Dorsett speaking against it. I also couldn’t believe it when he criticized a running back that he saw step out of bounds to avoid a hit, instead of turning it up the field, and smashing forward for another couple of yards.

    Tony, you are a hypocrite.

  30. Foghorn The IKonoclast says: Nov 7, 2013 10:04 PM

    I love that guy. I remember him being tackled from behind by one of the few guys who could do that – Darrell Green ****

    I am sensing some truth about the demise of this great game, all because of lawyers, steering committees and flying monkees. <– sp ha

  31. sg419 says: Nov 15, 2013 2:54 PM

    Isn’t the only way to determine if someone has CTE is an Autopsy?
    When did Dorsett die?

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!