Concussion case good for ex-Cowboys

June, 25, 2014
6/25/14
2:00
PM ET

The NFL agreed to remove a $675 million cap on damages from thousands of concussion-related claims on Wednesday. A federal judge didn't believe there would be enough money to cover more than 20,000 retired players who are expected to bring in a claim.

Among those 20,000 players is former Dallas Cowboys running back Tony Dorsett.

In a "D Magazine" article last year, Dorsett said he suffers memory loss among other mental health problems related to playing football.

"When I'm out there, I'm on a cloud. It's like a fog, man," Dorsett said in the story, published last year. "It's like a fog. That's the only way I can explain it. I can't get out of it, and I know -- it's just a weird feeling, dude. I hate it, and I get really, really -- and that can make me get real frustrated, if I'm not careful. I get mad at myself for certain things. Not knowing how to get certain places, forgetting where I'm going, driving somewhere then forgetting where I'm going. That kind of craziness, man. So I've learned to write notes. Or speak into my phone, write notes on it. Write it down."

The Carrick Brain Centers in Irving, Texas is designed to treat diseases and disorders of the brain and central nervous system for its patients. One visit inside the facility will show you all sorts of machines where patients can work on their motor functions after getting diagnosed with a concussion. Several former pro athletes have used places such as the Carrick Brain Center to work through their health issues.

"We focus on the principles of Neuroplasticity, in essence the brain has the ability to heal itself through stimulation of new neurons and the strengthening of compromised neural pathways," said Dr. Andre Fredieu, Chief of Neurology at Carrick Brain Centers. "Our evidence-based diagnostic tools and protocols utilize multiple theraputic modalaties to enable us to achieve measureable results in the quickest possible time, relieving debilitating symptoms and returning the patient to a measureably better quality of life."

The NFL is a vicious game and there's almost no way to prevent concussions in the sport outside of avoiding helmet-to-helmet contact -- which the league has outlawed -- because a player's head can hit the ground or another body part where a concussion can occur.

According to the Associated Press, U.S. District Judge Anita Brody denied preliminary approval of the NFL concussion lawsuit deal in January because she worried money could run out sooner than expected. The settlement, negotiated over several months, will help last at least 65 years and cover retired players who develop Lou Gehrig's disease, dementia or other neurological problems believed to be caused by concussions suffered during their pro careers.

More than 4,500 former players filed suit.

There are numerous players who haven't filed suit, such as Hall of Fame QB Roger Staubach, who suffered multiple concussions in his career. Staubach has said he's suffering no health problems as it relates to concussions. Troy Aikman, another Hall of Fame quarterback, retired due to back issues. But Aikman also suffered numerous concussions.

Aikman, like Staubach, has reported no health problems regarding concussions.

But we have Dorsett, the legendary Hall of Fame running back, who was diagnosed with having CTE, a form of encephalopathy that is a progressive degenerative disease related to people who have a history of concussions and other head injuries.

There is no cure.

"I'm a Hall of Famer," Dorsett said in the magazine story. "I'm one of the most visible guys during my era. And nobody's reached out to me. Nobody from the NFL has even checked, even asked a question to me. 'Hey, man, I'm sorry' or 'Hey, man, I wish you well' -- whatever. 'Man, is there anything we can do to help you?' You know, because sometimes -- I go to doctors and I can't remember the doctors' names."

Wednesday's ruling won't change Dorsett's condition, but along with the Carrick Brain Centers and other facilities, rehab might just help a little bit.
Calvin Watkins covers the Houston Rockets and the NBA for ESPN.com. He joined ESPNDallas.com in September 2009. He's covered the Dallas Cowboys and Texas Rangers as well as colleges, boxing and high school sports.

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