Hall of Fame running back Tony Dorsett has been diagnosed by the UCLA medical clinic with symptoms of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, a brain condition that is caused by head trauma and has been linked to memory loss, depression and dementia, per a report from ESPN’s “Outside the Lines“.
The former Cowboys running back said that when he took his Oct. 21 flight from Dallas to Los Angeles for testing, he repeatedly struggled to remember why he was aboard the plane and where he was going. Such episodes, he said, are commonplace when he travels.
The 1976 Heisman Trophy winner and eighth all-time leading NFL rusher said he has trouble controlling his emotions and is prone to outbursts at his wife and daughters. “It’s painful, man, for my daughters to say they’re scared of me.” After a long pause, he tearfully reiterated, “It’s painful.”
“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.”
Doctors have diagnosed Dorsett as being clinically depressed. Dorsett, now 59, is part of a group of living players that have displayed symptoms of the CTE condition that reportedly led to All-Pro lineback Junior Seau taking his own life in 2012. Signs of CTE has also been found in the brains of over 50 deceased ex-NFL players to date.
The condition is possibly linked to concussions suffered by football players during their playing days, which is common given the violent nature of the sport. Dorsett says he suffered numerous concussions over his 12-year NFL career. “I want to know if this is something that has come about because of playing football,” he said.
There is no known cure for CTE, but hopefully with the discovery of the condition in living former players doctors will be able to treat the condition before it’s effects become fatal. Our thoughts and best wishes go out to Dorsett and any player suffering from the condition.
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