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Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Outside the Lines: Answers for Fred McNeil

By Kevin Seifert

Two years ago, we re-introduced you to former Minnesota Vikings linebacker Fred McNeil, whose descent into memory loss and depression was artfully told by Jeanne Marie Laskas in GQ magazine. The implication was that McNeil's years playing football had at least accelerated his mental deterioration, and those suspicions are now closer to being confirmed scientifically.

According to ESPN's Outside the Lines, McNeil is one of five former NFL players whose brain scans have revealed images of the protein that causes football-related brain damage. The UCLA study puts doctors closer to being able to diagnose Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) in living patients rather than waiting until after their deaths to dissect their brains.

The ability to diagnose CTE, and then perhaps treat it, would be a major breakthrough for brain safety in football.

McNeil was one of two ex-players the report revealed. He is 60 and played his last season with the Vikings in 1985.