Interview subject and NFL Hall of Fame Running Back Tony Dorsett:
“I don’t want to get to the point where it turns into dementia, Alzheimer’s. I don’t want that,” says Dorsett, who ran for 12,739 yards, the eighth-highest total in league history. He is, in that moment, sad and deflated - in others, pumped up and angry, fists flying to punctuate his words. “There’s no doubt in my mind that … what I went through as a football player is taking an effect on me today. There’s no ifs ands or buts about that. I’m just hoping and praying I can find a way to cut it off at the pass.”
He spreads two pages’ worth of brain scans on his coffee table and says doctors told him that red regions in the color-coded scan mean he is not getting enough oxygen in the left lobe of his brain, the part associated with organization and memory. He already forgets people’s names or why he walked into a room or where he’s heading while driving on the highway, and fears his memory issues are getting worse.
Dorsett’s had surgery on both his knees, and problems with his left arm and right wrist. He says then-Cowboys coach Tom Landry once told him he could play despite a broken bone in his back. Not even the flak jacket Dorsett says he wore beneath his jersey could bring relief, the injury so painful that “tears would just start flowing out of my eyes, profusely and uncontrollably” during practices.
There goes my esteem for One of The
Greatest Football Coaches Ever.
It also wipes away the charm that I found in a quote attributed to John Matuszak upon his death: “you have to play with the little hurts.”