Scott Ross

SCOTT ROSS, 45, linebacker with New Orleans, 1991, and USC, 1987-90, died on 9/21/14 of extreme hypertension and alcohol poisoning, and was believed to have been dead 7-10 days in a car in a Louisiana church parking lot.  Scott Ross was funny and magnetic, life of the party.  His was the loudest voice on three Rose Bowl teams at USC, where he was Pac-10 defensive Player of the Year.  When he met Laura Fitzgerald, his last girlfriend, he asked her to watch a movie with him.  It was “North Dallas Forty,” adapted from Pete Gent’s book about carousing football players and their extreme ambivalence about their game.  That, Ross told her, was his story.  He was misdiagnosed.  He was accepted at mental health facilities and turned away.  He lost two marriages.  He was drowned in a cascade of pain medication and alcohol.  At the end, he was depressed and violent and slept almost around the clock, his parents, Marshall and Janie Ross, said.  Todd Marinovich, the USC and NFL quarterback who has journeyed to, and returned from, his own inferno, said, “We’re just serving our youth up for brain damage.”  During the course of his marriages Scott’s days of rage became more frequent.  He had a degenerative hip problem and was taking highly addictive painkillers, and he was also diagnosed as bipolar, which required more medication.  He had jobs, including a good one with 3M, and lost them.  Dr. Frank Adams, a retired neurotherapist who was also a psychiatrist, said of Ross’ condition,  “This was an extreme case.  Dementia is a progressive disease that will eventually kill you.”  At times Marshall would see Scott sitting on a curb, crying.  At one point he had to break into Scott’s apartment and get him off the floor.  “It’s like a dark cloud that’s coming,” Scott would say. “There’s pure evil going on in my head.  I have to take a drink or a pill to stop it.”  In an effort to help him, his parents took him back into their home. “He would be awake all night long,” Janie said. “He lived for that cellphone, would spend hours talking to his friends.  Things would change quickly. One day USC was playing football on TV and he watched, seemed so happy.  He was wound up, pacing the floor, yelling. First time we’d seen him happy in a long time.  But then he would go berserk.  We were afraid physically.  I told people that Scott would never hit us…once he got me in a headlock.  It scared the daylights out of me.  There were nights I had to spend with my girlfriend.  We had to ask him to leave.”  There was the night Ross found himself on the roof of an apartment building, trying to get in.  There was another night he was wearing only a raincoat, driving a tractor in the rain in San Luis Obispo.  “He thought it was funny,” Janie said.  “But he didn’t remember any of that.  He didn’t remember getting physical with me.”  Janie does not watch football anymore.  Marshall does, with ambivalence.–“Football killed ex-USC LB Scott Ross; His family wants NFL to do more about concussions”, DailyNews.com 8/15/15, LA Daily News, Mark Whicker.

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