Tony Dorsett opened up about his memory loss and personality changes after being diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE.
CTE is a progressive degenerative brain disease sometimes found in athletes with a history of repetitive brain trauma, something the NFL Hall of Famer is no stranger to.
CNN reports Dorsett recalled specifically a 1994 game against the Philadelphia when he went head to head with an opposing player — literally. One helmet plowed into another and Dorsett’s head snapped back, knocking his helmet askew.
Speaking with Wolf Blitzer, Dorsett explained, “He blew me up. I don’t remember the second half of that game, but I do remember that hit.” Doctors at UCLA diagnosed the former NFL player on Monday.
However, the only way to definitely diagnose someone with CTE is to analyze brain tissue after they are dead. Microscopic clumps of tau, an abnormal protein, have been found in the brains of dozens of former NFL players. However, a pilot study may have found tau in the brains of living retired players, including Tony Dorsett.
The New York Daily News notes that the former Cowboys star was one of the plaintiffs in a class-action concussion lawsuit between the NFL and 4,500 other former pro football players. Dorsett explained that he was glad to see something done about the suit, which saw a tentative settlement this summer. However, the former running back wonders if the settlement will be enough to help former players get the help they need.
Dorsett explained to the News, “Let me tell you something dude, I can’t remember the names of people. Every time I’ve got to go somewhere, almost every other day, I’ve got to ask my wife, ‘How did I get there?’ That is embarrassing.” The Hall of Famer added that he is short-tempered and breaks down “because I’m like, ‘Man, what’s happening to me? Why did I just snap at my daughter?”
For Tony Dorsett, his preliminary diagnosis of CTE explains a lot about forgetting, as well as his mood swings. His daughters are also afraid about what the disease will do to him. He explained that they often wonder whether they will get their happy dad or the one in a bad mood.
Dorsett is one of many who demonstrated strange behavior. However, his actions so far hasn’t been as erratic as Pittsburgh Steelers offensive lineman Justin Strzelczyk, who died in a high-speed chase in 2004. He also hasn’t contemplated suicide, like Junior Seau, who killed himself last year at the age of 43.
Instead, Tony Dorsett commented, “I’m going to beat this. Trust me.”