- Paul Kuharsky, ESPN Staff Writer
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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.”