Ray Easterling, one of the more than 1,200 former players who have filed concussion-related lawsuits against the NFL, died in what police said was a suicide on Thursday, and his wife has described him as being badly damaged both physically and mentally from his playing career.
Mary Ann Easterling told FOXSports.com that her husband had suffered through depression and insomnia, both of which can be caused by head trauma, had been diagnosed with dementia last month at age 62, and had had 25 orthopedic surgeries.
“He had been feeling more and more pain,” Mary Ann Easterling said. “He felt like his brain was falling off. He was losing control. He couldn’t remember things from five minutes ago. It was frightening, especially somebody who had all the plays memorized as a player when he stepped on the field.”
Easterling told the New York Times she will continue to pursue the lawsuit, and she wants the NFL to establish a fund for players with traumatic brain injuries. She faults the NFL for failing to give players adequate time off after suffering concussions.
“Half the time the player puts themselves back in the game, and they don’t know what kind of impact it has,” she said. “Somehow this has got to be stopped.”
Easterling played safety for the Falcons from 1972 to 1979.