Mike Adamle, the former NFL player and TV host who transitioned to the world of professional wrestling in the late-2000s, is suffering from dementia. This was confirmed by the 67-year-old ex-Monday Night RAW general manager in a recent interview with NBC 5 Chicago.
A native of Kent, Ohio, Mike Adamle was a college football star for Northwestern University, and he played well enough at running back to get drafted in the fourth round by the Kansas City Chiefs in 1971. He would go on to play six seasons in the NFL, mostly as a backup, but would become much better-known later on as the co-host of American Gladiators from 1989 to 1996. Adamle was also active as a football announcer and first worked for WWE Chairman Vince McMahon in 2001, as he covered sideline duties in the only season of McMahon’s ill-fated football league, the XFL.
Wrestling fans, however, are more familiar with Adamle’s 10-month stint in WWE, which started in January of 2008 at the Royal Rumble. He acted as a backstage interviewer for Monday Night RAW, replaced Joey Styles as ECW play-by-play announcer, and served a few months as an on-air authority figure, working as the RAW brand’s general manager until he left WWE in November of that year. He then returned to covering more traditional sports and had most recently been a sports anchor for NBC 5 in Chicago before leaving this post in March of 2016.
— 411 Wrestling (@411wrestling) February 8, 2017
With almost a year having passed since Mike Adamle left NBC 5’s broadcast team, the station’s official website conducted an interview with the veteran sportscaster, where he made a shocking admission about why he had abruptly left his job. While Adamle had been suffering from epilepsy and seizures for almost two decades, he has more recently been on long-term disability and had recently been diagnosed with dementia. His doctors also believe that he may be suffering from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE.
“(My doctor said) we see some things that are concurrent with CTE. And I’m going, ‘What? How can you say that? I thought it was supposed to happen after you pass away.'”
CTE is a brain disease where sufferers experience memory loss, aggressive behavior, depression, confusion, and ultimately progressive dementia. The condition had previously been associated with boxers due to the repeated blows to the head they receive in the ring, but in more recent years, several former NFL players have been diagnosed with the disease. These include Pro Football Hall of Famers such as Pittsburgh Steelers center Mike Webster and San Diego Chargers linebacker Junior Seau, both of whom were diagnosed with CTE after their deaths.
Although Adamle had never actually wrestled for WWE, there have been dozens of former WWE Superstars who claim to have suffered “long-term neurological injuries” that have been proven to cause CTE, and some of them sued the company in 2016 over these injuries and how they were handled. According to the Chicago Tribune, some of the plaintiffs included the late Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka, Joe “Road Warrior Animal” Laurinaitis, Chavo Guerrero, and referees Earl and Dave Hebner.
Mike Adamle’s neurologist, Dr. Michael Smith of Rush University, confirmed to NBC 5 Chicago that he does have some warning signs of CTE, though doctors are only able to diagnose the disease once a sufferer has died.
“Do we know that he has it definitely? No. We don’t know that until he dies, unfortunately.”
Adamle admitted to NBC 5 Chicago’s Peggy Kusinski that he has to deal with dramatic mood swings, depression, anxiety, fits of anger, and short-term memory loss. He also illustrated two simple examples of how memory loss, in particular, affects him at the present.
“Here’s what happens. You come over and you can do an interview with me and you’ll leave and I’ll say, ‘Oh God who is that?’ Watching a movie last night — this happened last night — five seconds into it, I’ll say ‘What are we watching?'”
It appears that Adamle’s dementia and CTE symptoms are a result of the concussions he suffered during his football career. And when he was asked if he knows how many times he got concussed, he told NBC 5 Chicago that he isn’t sure, adding that concussions, once thought to be “no big deal” during his time as a football player, are indeed a serious problem.
Meanwhile, Mike Adamle is doing his best to deal with the reality of his present condition. His dementia also has him unable to work or drive, but nonetheless, he remains determined to “stay active” and somehow improve his memory, or at least slow the effects of memory loss.
“The only way that I can extend my life and be around to see my daughters get married, live happily ever after with your wife, I want to be able to do that. The only way you can do that is to stay active.”
[Featured Image by WWE]