JOE DeLAMIELLEURE, 63, a guard with Buffalo and Cleveland, 1973-85, has been diagnosed as having CTE. The Hall of Famer suffers from anxiety, depression, chronic insomnia, mood swings and suicidal thoughts. He believes he’s had over 100 concussions. He believes the facemask made the helmet a weapon. He’s fighting for healthcare from the NFL.
JERRY ECKWOOD, 59, running back with Tampa Bay, 1979-81, has dementia. He remembers sustaining at least 2 concussions in college (at Arkansas) and 3 in the pros, before retiring due to back and neck injuries. According to his older brother, Doug, he had no psychological issues before retiring. Shortly thereafter, he began acting erratically, was arrested for writing bad checks and fighting with a police officer, and committed to Arkansas State Hospital for 5 or 6 years. His mental state has slowly deteriorated and he has little contact with his family. Eckwood, who can no longer drive, go grocery shopping, handle his checkbook, or function on his own, lives in an assisted living facility and has qualified for the 88 Plan, and is entitled to receive annual benefits of $136,000 for the remainder of his life.—“Before Dementia Assistance, Help With N.F.L. Application”, NY Times 1/21/10, Alan Schwarz. Same “Broken Bucs” article as above.
JIMMIE GILES, 59, tight end with the Houston Oilers, Tampa Bay, Detroit and Philadelphia, 1977-89, has bad knees, 4 degenerative discs in his back and 3 in his neck. He needs epidural injections to relieve the pain. Despite suffering acute knee pain while with Tampa Bay, his knee was not X-rayed by the team, merely drained before shots were administered. After the season he went on his own to see Dr. James Andrews, who found a quarter-sized piece of cartilage floating loose, and performed surgery. In 1980, 2 days before a game against Green Bay, his back went out at practice and he fell to the ground screaming. He was shot up with a long needle so he could play in the game, but at some point everything went numb and he removed himself from the game. Coaches yelled at him on the sideline, “calling me all kinds of names for not playing hurt.” Giles later needed back surgery. He estimates that he had about a dozen concussions throughout his NFL career. He abruptly shut down his financial services company in 2007 after becoming disoriented on the job. “All of a sudden, one day, man, I couldn’t remember where in the heck I was. I had to give that business up because it required a lot of thinking. I’m dealing with people…and their lives and fortunes.” He filed for bankruptcy in March 2010. Though the Social Security Administration (SSA) declared him disabled and NFLPA union officials had pledged at a 2007 Congressional hearing that any player deemed disabled by SSA would get a benefit, Giles was denied a football-degenerative benefit and given a much lower inactive benefit. This prompted a lawsuit and protracted legal fight–during a period through which his wife, Vivian, battled breast cancer–that Giles eventually won in November 2012. Giles no longer watches the NFL.—Same “Broken Bucs” article as above. “WHEN THE CHEERS STOP: After giving his body to the NFL, Jimmie Giles is in the fight of his life”, NYDailyNews.com 12/26/09, Wayne Coffey. “Jimmie Giles: Legally Eligible for FULL Disability Benefits”, davepear.com 11/23/12.
KYLE TURLEY, 39, offensive tackle with New Orleans, the St. Louis Rams, and Kansas City, 1998-2007, has a seizure condition as a result of concussions, suffers migraines, has extreme sensitivity to light and problems with rage, and considered suicide seriously enough to call NFL Life Line: (800) 506-0078. He told his wife, Stacy, to lock up all his guns. He was at a bar, suddenly felt very tired, sat down and woke up on the floor, went outside, vomited while experiencing vertigo, had his wife take him to the emergency room, where he flopped around and couldn’t control his body. “Is this how I’m going?” he asked himself as he thought he was about to die. Turley is now a musical performer dedicating much of the revenue he generates to help former NFLers in need.—The United States of Football, a film by Sean Pamphilon. Interview with Dan Le Batard & Bomani Jones on ESPN Highly Questionable, 9/9/13.
RALPH WENZEL, 69, guard with Pittsburgh and San Diego, 1966-73, died 6/18/12 from complications of dementia. He said he had “more concussions than I can count.” A successful teacher and coach, he began having significant memory lapses and other cognitive problems at 52. Symptoms worsened to the point that he could no longer work, communicate or feed himself. In the movie Head Games he could not recognize himself in a football picture held by his wife, Dr. Eleanor Perfetto, who testified on his behalf before a House Judiciary Committee hearing on football head injuries in 10/09. Shortly thereafter, the NFL acknowledged dementia exhibited by retirees could be football-related. CTE confirmed by examination of his brain, which had shrunk to half its normal size.—“Ralph Wenzel, Whose Dementia Helped Start a Debate, Dies at 69”, NY Times 6/22/12, Alan Schwarz. “A Football Widow’s Traumatic Journey”, NY Times 4/18/13, Tim Rohan.
DICK NOLAN, 75, safety with the NY Giants, Chicago Cardinals, and Dallas, 1954-62, died on 11/11/07 after having Alzheimer’s. His son Mike said, “My dad is from the leather-helmet era. He had a lot of concussions, as all of them did back then.” Lou-Ellen Barkan, President and CEO of the Alzheimer’s Association’s NY Chapter, said studies have “found a strong correlation between head injuries suffered between the 20s and 40s and the onset of Alzheimer’s later in life.”—“The poignant saga of the Nolan family”, NY Daily News 2007, Gary Myers, reprinted by the SF Chronicle 6/07. “Dick Nolan, 75, N.F.L. Coach and Player, Is Dead”, NY Times 11/13/07, Frank Litsky, who references a San Jose Mercury article.
LARRY MORRIS, 79, linebacker/center/fullback with the LA Rams, Chicago and Atlanta, 1955-66, died after having dementia since his late 50s. He was the MVP of the 1963 NFL Championship Game. His neuropsychiatrist linked his disease to his playing career. His family says he played through at least 4 concussions in the NFL, and his college teammates say he had numerous concussions while playing at Georgia Tech. A former Tech teammate said, “Some people say he was too good to too many people.”—“John Mackey and other retired NFL players experience living hell”, SportingNews 7/7/11, Matt Crossman.
JOHN GRIMSLEY, 45, linebacker with Houston and Miami, 1984-93, died on 2/6/08 of a gunshot wound to the chest, which police ruled an accident. He’d sustained 8 or 9 concussions and was the first player diagnosed with CTE by Dr. Ann McKee of Boston University’s Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy (CSTE).—“12 Athletes Leaving Brains to Concussion Study”, NY Times 9/23/08, Alan Schwarz. Same Grantland article by Leavey as above.
UNC study of nearly 3,000 former NFL players: 13.5% incidence of depression in the 35-to-44 age group compared with 8% in the general population. 11% incidence of depression for ex-NFLers in the 45-to-54 age group compared with 8% in the general population. “Some of it may be from the effects of concussions, but I think it’s multifactorial. The withdrawal from the sport is a big factor, otherwise you wouldn’t see the disparity…further out in time,” according to Kevin Guskiewicz, neuroscientist and director of the UNC Center for the Study of Retired Athletes.
“A growing body of work suggests that the accumulation of smaller hits, those that do not cause concussion, may be as important or more so to the total damage.”
“Researchers in the Purdue Neurotrauma Group, who have been studying brain injury in high school players, now recommend that coaches think of hits the way baseball managers think of pitches and impose strict weekly limits.”
“Separately, a study by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health found fewer than half as many suicides among a cohort of 3,439 retired players as would be expected in a similar group from the general population.”
The above 4 items are from the Junior Seau SI article above them.
PAUL OLIVER, 29, safety with San Diego, 2007-11, committed suicide on 9/24/13 by shooting himself with a handgun. He played 57 games and teammates say he was funny, charismatic and a hard worker. He became depressed about the end of his playing career and marital issues. His wife, Chelsea Oliver, said her husband had started talking about a divorce. On September 24 she said Oliver had been drinking alcohol and the 2 argued. Police on the incident state that Oliver shot himself in the head in front of his wife and 2 young boys.—“Chargers ‘devastated’ by ex-DB Paul Oliver’s suicide”, USA Today 9/26/13, Lindsay H. Jones. “Former football player Paul Oliver shot himself in the head, police say”, CNN.com 10/3/13, Rich Phillips. 9/25/14 Update: Oliver’s wife and sons sued the NFL for wrongful death, blaming sports-related concussions for his suicide. The suit alleges his death was the direct result of the injuries, depression and emotional suffering caused by repetitive head trauma and concussions suffered as a result of playing football. The suit also cites defective helmets.—SF Chronicle 9/25/14, from AP. 10/21/14 Update: Oliver’s wife, Chelsea, says he underwent a radical transformation from loving husband and father to monster after his third major concussion. With no history of domestic violence, he pushed her, kicked her, threw her against the wall, and dragged her by her hair. She feared for her life and the safety of their children. Paul Oliver said, “I don’t know what’s wrong with me.” Just before he shot himself in the head he said to Chelsea, “This is how miserable I am.” He was confirmed to have advanced CTE.–HBO Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel 10/21/14, Jon Frankel.