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.