Flickr / John Liu

NFL Legend Tony Dorsett Has Concussion-Related Brain Disease

Hall of Fame running back Tony Dorsett was diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a debilitating brain disease caused by numerous hits to the head.

By Matt Moreno | November 7, 2013

(Image source: Flickr / John Liu)


Hall of Fame running back Tony Dorsett and multiple other former NFL players have been diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, a debilitating brain disease that can be caused by repeated concussions.

Dorsett spoke with ESPN's "Outside the Lines" about his condition. He says he's struggled with depression, memory loss and anger issues since retiring from the NFL. 

"I'm too smart of a person, I like to think, to take my life. But it's crossed my mind. ... I get frustrated. I look at myself. ... 'You're not Anthony, Tony Dorsett. You're not him anymore. Who are you?'"

According to Boston University, CTE is a brain disease "found in athletes (and others) with a history of repetitive brain trauma. ... CTE has been known to affect boxers since the 1920s. However, recent reports have been published of ... CTE in retired professional football players and other athletes."

"There's no cure for the brain disease. Dorsett is trying a vitamin and nutrition program, hoping to slow it down and hopefully reverse some of the damage." (Via KTVT

Researchers at UCLA diagnosed Dorsett with the disease — one of the first times it's been discovered in a living player's brain. Evidence of the disease has been found in deceased NFL players' brains.

Sadly, dozens of those deceased NFL players took their own lives, and many researchers believe CTE was a contributing factor. (Via CNN, ABC)

That, among other reasons, is why 4,500 players and their families sued the NFL, alleging the league withheld information about the dangers of concussions. The NFL agreed to a $765 million settlement earlier this year. (Via The New York Times

Although there's no cure for CTE, researchers say the ability to see the disease in living athletes could help doctors better understand and treat it. Dorsett played for the Dallas Cowboys for 10 years and the Denver Broncos for a season before retiring. 

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