Robert Roll

ROBERT ROLL, 31, running back with Constantine HS (MI), playing in an alumni game on 7/3/15 sustained a helmet-to-helmet hit, was knocked unconscious, and suffered a shattered seventh cervical vertebra (his spinal cord is intact).  Roll was hospitalized at Bronson Methodist Hospital, where he underwent surgery the next day.  He’s likely to be transferred to a Grand Rapids rehabilitation center, where doctors say he’ll likely spend months working to regain use of his limbs.  Roll was hit by a White Pigeon player who is several years younger than Roll and owns his own gym.  Kevin Roll, the older brother of Robert Roll, said that his brother signed a waiver and there is no lawsuit pending.  “It’s one thing for young kids to play football,” he said. “But when you’ve done nothing like that for a long time, and then you get out there and start smashing people, it’s not going to turn out good.”  Though the alumni game has been a popular community fundraiser, there is considerable discussion about whether to continue the game.–“After devastating injury, alumni football games reconsidered”, 7/6/15, Julie Mack.


Brett Favre

BRETT FAVRE, 45, quarterback with Green Bay, Atlanta, the NY Jets, and Minnesota, 1991-2010, has admitted fear over “pretty shocking memory lapses,” such as forgetting having seen his daughter’s soccer games.  The Super Bowl winner and 3-time NFL MVP once played in 297 consecutive games and was sacked 525 times.  He was once addicted to painkillers during his career and suffered a seizure that was probably related to his addiction.  Favre once suffered a concussion during a game and re-entered without medical clearance, throwing a touchdown pass he didn’t remember.  On his last play as a professional he suffered a concussion, being knocked out when his head hit the icy field.  “I would be real leery about him playing,” Favre said, if he had a son.  “I would have a hard time just throwing him out there.”–“Concussion concerns hit home when former QB forgets part of his life”, 10/31/13, Johnette Howard.  “Bitter pill”, 5/27/96, Peter King.  “Favre’s Concussion Adds to Packer Woes”—NY Times 10/4/04, Pat Borzi.  Interview with Matt Lauer, “The Today Show” 11/18/03, NBC TV.

American Academy of Neurology Survey

2000 American Academy of Neurology findings based on a survey of 1094 former NFL players: “51% had been knocked unconscious more than once, 73% of those injured said they were not required to sit on the sidelines after head trauma, and 31% subsequently had difficulty with memory.”  (Businessweek above.)

Al Toon & Wayne Chrebet

AL TOON, 51, receiver with the NY Jets, 1985-92, had at least 9 concussions before retiring at 29.  He suffers from post-concussion syndrome, a chronic condition.  The 1986 AFC Player of the Year completed a triathalon in 2004 and is on the boards of several organizations.  He’s had residual effects from his condition, but won’t go into detail because he doesn’t want sympathy.  His son, Nick Toon, is a receiver with New Orleans.

WAYNE CHREBET, 41, receiver with the NY Jets, 1995-2005, retired at 31 after his sixth concussion.  11/6/05: Knocked out cold by a hit after a catch.  “I always said they were going to have to carry me off the field to get me to retire.  Unfortunately they did.”  Has good and bad days, some things get better, some worse.  Wouldn’t discuss details because he doesn’t want sympathy.  “Concerned about long-term effects.”  Works in finance and is married with 3 sons.—“2 Ex-Jets Have Moved On, but Concussion Effects Linger”, NY Times 11/20/11, William C. Rhoden.

Sean Morey

SEAN MOREY, 38, wide receiver and special teamer with New England, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Arizona, 1999-2009, acknowledged playing with a concussion while with Arizona in 2009.  This despite being named co-chair of the NFL Players Association concussion and traumatic brain injury committee the previous month.  He said the issue is complicated by the players’ obligation and desire to play, no matter what.  Morey said he’s had more concussions than he’d like to admit and felt like he was “tased in the head with a taser” on some hits.  He was once knocked out and taken off the field, and when he came around he wanted to go back out there—and this was only practice.  He was angry when he couldn’t because they’d hidden his helmet.—Same movie as above.  “Morey says he downplayed symptoms”, 11/12/09, from AP.  “EX-PAT MOREY TO ADDRESS BROWN SESSION ON HEAD INJURIES”, 4/25/10, by Providence Journal’s Jim Donaldson.

Frank Wycheck

FRANK WYCHECK, 43, tight end with Washington, the Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans, 1993-2003, retired because of concussions and fights migraine headaches and depression.  He played football from the age of 5 and remembers getting hit in the side of the head and seeing “flashes” at that age.  He says it’s impossible to know how many concussions he’s sustained, and with the face-to-face contact at the line of scrimmage “you are almost getting mild concussion every play in practice and games.”  He was knocked out on his last concussion in 2003 (yet played on that season).  “It’s a constant battle.  I had every symptom you can name, and for a long time.  It was very difficult to deal with.  You play head games with yourself.”—“John Mackey and other retired NFL players experience living hell”, SportingNews 7/7/11, Matt Crossman.  “Frank Wycheck says concussions are ‘reason I stopped’”, The Tennessean 10/19/12, interview with Jim Wyatt.

Dan Bunz

DAN BUNZ, 59, linebacker with San Francisco and Detroit, 1978-85, says he had “hundreds of concussions.”  Known for making the goal line tackle to save the 1982 Super Bowl victory for SF, the 2-time Super Bowl winner says he was once knocked out on the opening kickoff of a game in New York, yet played the whole first half “on remote control” and couldn’t remember the game.  He was diagnosed with short-term-memory deficit soon after retiring from the NFL and increasingly forgets things.  While playing, Bunz endured frequent cortisone shots for shoulder and hip injuries, and struggles to sit for long periods because of persistent hip pain.—“The Hollow Man”, sactown magazine February-March 2012.  “Toll of NFL head impact injuries worries Dan Bunz”, SF Chronicle 3/10/11, Ron Kroichick.