One of the NFL’s touchiest issues remains the primary cause of brain injuries in the league. With mind-numbing blows due to unavoidable contact, several players have experienced drastic health alterations that fall under the diagnosis, Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE).
To continue efforts in CTE’s research and prevention, former NFLer Warren Sapp shared that he will donate his brain to the Concussion Legacy Foundation following his passing. The decision was sparked after a conversation with former running back, Fred Willis.
“I decided I wanted to pledge my brain when I got an email from Fred Willis that had quotes from NFL owners. I mean, down the line you can see them, ‘There’s no correlation between football, CTE, suicides,’ and all of this foolish stuff,” Sapp said in a video revelation published by The Player’s Tribune. “I mean, where are you getting this information from? And then, spewing it out as if it’s fact.”
The 13-year pro-footballer then reminisced on the strenuous training camps that fostered a “who’s tough?” attitude and “bone-on-bone” contact. “We’re playing in a macho league and we’re talking about Hall of Famers now who are immortalized forever, made busts and everything,” Sapp said. “Legends of the game. There’s no way any of us wanna really admit that we can’t remember how to get home or a grocery list that the wife has given us or how to go pick up our kids to the school, or whatever it may be.”
Sapp, 44, then went on to describe the on-field experience that contributes to taking years off the brain’s life. “We used to tackle them by the head, used to grab facemasks. We used to allow Deacon Jones to do the head slap,” he said. “All of that was something that we had to take away from the game. We used to hit quarterbacks below the knees. Now it’s a strike zone.”
Following former New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez’s death in prison, his family donated his brain to science to “possibly help other young men who decide to play football, help further that cause, and also possibly shed light and more evidence on this case,” the family’s attorney said.
CTE also made waves across sports and entertainment in 2015 when the film Concussion debuted in theaters. Acclaimed actor Will Smith portrayed Dr. Bennet Omalu, a pathologist who conducted research on past NFL players who suffered from CTE. His efforts were marred by the league who were continuously called to task on the disease.