AFC South: ALS

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Tim Shaw joined a growing NFL fraternity when he revealed he has ALS.

He joined former NFL players O.J. Brigance, Steve Gleason and Kevin Turner, who also have the disease.

“I don’t blame football,” Shaw said.

But there are more NFL players suffering the ravages of the illness. In 2010, HBO’s Real Sports reported that 14 former NFL players had ALS. That same year the New York Times reported:

...(A) leading journal of neuropathology, however, suggests that the demise of athletes like (Lou) Gehrig and soldiers given a diagnosis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, might have been catalyzed by injuries only now becoming understood: concussions and other brain trauma.”

Wednesday the entire Tennessee Titans team and many members of the support staff took the Ice Bucket Challenge in front of Shaw.

Later, on the Nashville radio show I co-host, Shaw said players should know if they are putting themselves at any additional risk, and he hopes studies will ultimately offer that information.

Two Titans who played with Shaw discussed the risks that come with the game.

“With the way this game is, there could be a connection to a lot of things,” left tackle Michael Roos said. “Hopefully they can find some kind of connection -- anything that could help guys, you just never know. It’s definitely possible...

“I don’t know if you can correlate football to (ALS). I’m sure this doesn’t help it. But there are a lot of risks in this game. You can’t let anybody fool you, we all know enough of them and we all know you’re doing something to your body that’s not good. You can’t say you didn’t know something could happen to you, not necessarily something that bad, obviously. But you put your body through a lot of stuff and you never know what’s going to happen.”

Said cornerback Jason McCourty: “It’s a rough, violent sport. We all enjoy the game, we love to play and we kind of know what we signed up for when we take part. It is what it is.”

McCourty saw Shaw Sunday night at a charity event held by linebacker Moise Fokou, then learned Tuesday night of Shaw’s diagnosis.

“Now for Shaw, he’s fighting a different battle,” McCourty said. “As teammates, former teammates, all we can do is encourage him and be there when he needs us.”
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- A couple members of the Tennessee Titans have done the Ice Bucket Challenge to help raise funds and awareness for ALS.

But there has not been large-scale participation, and Tuesday evening we learned the reason: The team has been waiting for an announcement from former Titans linebacker and special-teamer Tim Shaw that he has been diagnosed with the disease, and players are expected to answer his challenge soon, collectively.

Shaw revealed his diagnosis in a short video posted on the team’s website, then challenged the Titans, the Penn State football team and the community where he went to high school, Clarenceville (Mich.).

Shaw was a popular role player in Tennessee after the Titans added him and Patrick Bailey before the 2010 season in hopes of bolstering their special teams.

Shaw is a proud Penn State alumnus who willingly discussed Joe Paterno, Jerry Sandusky and the sexual abuse scandal that unfolded on campus and landed Sandusky in jail.

His diagnosis is terrible news, but he has quickly put himself in position to help the cause. The Ice Bucket Challenge is raising awareness of the disease and helping to raise funds to research a cure.