Alan Schwarz is a friend of TOTN, and an incredible sports writer. In case you missed it, he wrote about degenerative brain disease in relatively young football players for today's New York Times. It's a scary, depressing story about guys who give their all for a sport I love dearly. He profiles Tom McHale, who died in 2008, from a lethal combination of oxycodone and cocaine. Police determined his death was accidental, but in the subsequent autopsy, doctors performed a test on McHale's brain and found evidence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy. C.T.E. is a progressive condition that "results from repetitive head trauma and can bring on dementia in people in their 40s or 50s." According to Dr. Ann C. McKee, who's working on a paper on C.T.E. cases in football,
the brain damage Tom McHale developed -- which drug abuse cannot cause, doctors added -- probably played a role in his self-destruction in his final years. "You would expect the symptoms of lack of insight, poor judgment, decreased concentration and attention, inability to multitask and memory problems."
All six NFL veterans between ages 36 and 50 who have been tested for C.T.E. have had it. You can read much more in Alan's article.