Mike Webster's Legacy

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    Pam Webster   Wife of Mike Webster

    She watched her husband, Steelers legend Mike Webster, become confused, angry and violent in the years after he retired from football. Pam Webster had to take a job as a waitress to support her family, and the couple ultimately divorced, shortly before Mike’s death at age 50. He would become the first football player diagnosed with CTE. Pam Webster spoke to FRONTLINE’s Jim Gilmore on April 18, 2013.

    ... He's a center. It's the toughest position probably on the field. He's one of the smartest guys on the field.

    He was incredibly smart. And to see his brain declining years later was such a sad thing, because he was incredibly smart, and what I've said -- the boys have this gift that they see detail that no one else picks up on, and Mike had that gift.

    Like in the line several times he would see somebody flex, move, and he could draw them offsides just by body movement or position or what. He knew it so well. Plus he knew where everything was at the right time, you know, when he was on the line. And if you look for that in old films, you see him noticing something like this, and then turning around to [Terry] Bradshaw and telling him to change the play. I mean, he was a master at the game. I have no more respect for any football player than Mike.

    And the ability to sort of build up his body to become --

    Building it up, yes, to go from -- I mean, his muscle size, he had a huge strength and width to his muscles. His bone structure was very big. And he just added to that. I mean, it was never a gift; it was always earned with Mike. He lifted and he worked beyond anybody else. And he always was there to help somebody else do the same thing.

    Was one of the thing that motivated him this terror of losing his job?

    Yes.

    Explain that.

    Well, when we came in, of course there was the competition. We're going back to rookie season. I didn't come to Pittsburgh until he knew that he had made the team, until he got the official word, because you never knew.

    And every year he worked harder and harder because he didn't want anybody to replace him. He wanted to do his job, but the best he could do at his job. He was never satisfied [with] doing 90 percent; it was always 110 percent. He worked harder; he was more knowledgeable. He was like a student of the game.

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    Pam Webster   Wife of Mike Webster

    She watched her husband, Steelers legend Mike Webster, become confused, angry and violent in the years after he retired from football. Pam Webster had to take a job as a waitress to support her family, and the couple ultimately divorced, shortly before Mike’s death at age 50. He would become the first football player diagnosed with CTE. Pam Webster spoke to FRONTLINE’s Jim Gilmore on April 18, 2013.

    You've talked a little bit in one of the last interviews about what it was like to be that "medieval warrior," [as] you defined it, on the field. Explain that a little bit.

    Well, as we had said before, when I was at the athletic department and looked out the window, it was much like watching almost from a nip of time the guys coming into the stadium like the gladiators would come in back at that time.

    And these guys were warriors. They used to call Mike's group "Webster's warriors." And it was a perfect name for them, because it was war out there. It's a different game now than it was then. But the amount of training and the physical abuse was much more back then, so I really compared it to being a warrior.

    Do people watching this game on television quite understand that?

    I don't think so. And I think there's just this marked change now where it's -- I believe it's more sports entertainment than it was the game of the '70s. And you may have the players from the '60s saying that about the '70s. But the '70s and '80s was a different -- where the physical toll, especially with that position, the offensive line, defensive line, is so much different than if you're a running back or a quarterback. That group of men had a personality of their own.

    Explain that. Why was it more dangerous?

    It was more dangerous because you took more hits. You had to be physically strong enough to sustain those hits. And if you fell down and lost, you know, the ability to get back up, somebody was going to take your job. They would just get somebody else to take that job. And your training and your stamina really had to be strong.

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    Pam Webster   Wife of Mike Webster

    She watched her husband, Steelers legend Mike Webster, become confused, angry and violent in the years after he retired from football. Pam Webster had to take a job as a waitress to support her family, and the couple ultimately divorced, shortly before Mike’s death at age 50. He would become the first football player diagnosed with CTE. Pam Webster spoke to FRONTLINE’s Jim Gilmore on April 18, 2013.

    And Mike's use of his head, how the head became a weapon.

    Yeah. Actually in some of the interviews, I've talked to people who actually use their head as a weapon, and admitted that on Mike, when they were playing against Mike.

    I think when you're at that position, center -- Mike's body was built for playing center because he was low to the ground and had a low back. But also every time you come up, your head is going to get hit at that position more than any other position on the field. You're going to get more head hits because you're coming up every time from a solid stance.

    How would he come home? Injuries?

    You know, he never complained about injuries. And the funny thing is, I never worried about him getting injured, never ever. And somebody thought that was so odd. And I said, "Well, he was 'Iron Mike.' Why would I worry about --?" I was totally confident in how he was training and that he was strong enough to sustain anything.

    He -- very, very few times would complain about things. He would just pretty much suck it up. He was Mike Webster, and this was expected of him, and this was what he had to do.

    But how much of that was because of his pride for being who he was and what he represented, and how much of it was make-believe? Did you see the injuries? Did you see him being battered?

    I think when you're married, and the wife that they come home to, they can let down a little bit. Yeah, there was definitely -- you could see the bruises; you could see how it would ache. But he wasn't a complainer. And I think he sort of expected that. But you could see the headaches, the body aches, the toll it took on him. But he was not going to miss a game. That would have killed him, to miss a game and not be with his line, being there with his team.

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    Pam Webster   Wife of Mike Webster

    She watched her husband, Steelers legend Mike Webster, become confused, angry and violent in the years after he retired from football. Pam Webster had to take a job as a waitress to support her family, and the couple ultimately divorced, shortly before Mike’s death at age 50. He would become the first football player diagnosed with CTE. Pam Webster spoke to FRONTLINE’s Jim Gilmore on April 18, 2013.

    So let's talk about some of the lousy stuff that happened. One of the things you talked about was the Christmas where you bought all the gifts and then all the checks bounced. Tell me that story.

    Well, you know, Mike had a good heart. Family was number one to him, and he wanted us to have Christmas. Our last Christmas together was like this -- I don't know if it was the Christmas before our last Christmas together, but he wanted so bad to promise you that he could bring through, come through with a check for Christmas.

    And he would write checks and send them to me, but then a week later they would bounce because he didn't have the funds for them. And that would be really hard, because number one, I knew it was Christmas, and number two, it had to be embarrassing for him. He couldn't provide for us the way he wanted to, or the way he wanted his kids to have Christmas.

    So at that point, when I found out, I bought the gifts; I thought, how am I going to cover this? So I just took all the wedding rings I had and all the jewelry and sold it. Got one-fourth of what it was worth, but I was able to cover the checks because I wanted us to have Christmas. ...

    I think you said at one point that one of the hardest things for him was that he couldn't be Daddy anymore.

    He couldn't be Dad. And it was really hard for him to even -- well, first of all, he didn't have joy in it. He wasn't experiencing those feelings anymore of joy. Mike wasn't Mike. He was angrier quicker than before, and didn't have the patience to have the kids on his lap or take a walk with the kids, like he didn't have that stamina physically. I mean, at one point he couldn't even carry my daughter up the hill at the zoo, which here's Mike -- Iron Mike couldn't carry his daughter up the hill. I think he wanted -- that was his dream, to get that family back, and it just never happened. It was heartbreaking.

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    Pam Webster   Wife of Mike Webster

    She watched her husband, Steelers legend Mike Webster, become confused, angry and violent in the years after he retired from football. Pam Webster had to take a job as a waitress to support her family, and the couple ultimately divorced, shortly before Mike’s death at age 50. He would become the first football player diagnosed with CTE. Pam Webster spoke to FRONTLINE’s Jim Gilmore on April 18, 2013.

    You talked a little bit in the past about sort of also physically how he started looking.

    Yeah, he looked 20 years older at least than what he was, at least. He was 40 looking 65, 70. His teeth were falling out. His body -- he had cellulitis. His heart was getting enlarged. His arthritis in his hands were shaped like a football. His fingers were all broken. There were broken bones in his feet, so he would always wear cowboy boots, because that's the only thing he could wear. That's all he ever wore was that. But physically he was really tortured.

    He was not -- And the aging -- just to look at him, you didn't know. He didn't look like who he was before, and he didn't act like it. ...

    So how did this start affecting him? There's this story you tell about coming home and all his pictures are destroyed.

    Oh, yeah. His anger was inappropriate to what the consequence -- or the action was inappropriate to the consequence. His anger was out of control. And then at the same point 20 minutes later it would be like he's forgotten it and he's feeling really sad about it all.

    I came home, and he was angry about something; I don't even remember at this point what it was. But he took a knife and slashed all his football pictures. They were all destroyed and gone, and broken glass. And they were all down.

    And it wasn't Mike. Mike would have never done this. I mean, he was never one to boast about who he was or what he did or anything like that. He'd rather have pictures of his kids on the wall than his playing days. But I think he was so angry at himself and what had become of him, and in terms of being a football player and who he was and what had happened to the family that he just destroyed that part.

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    Pam Webster   Wife of Mike Webster

    She watched her husband, Steelers legend Mike Webster, become confused, angry and violent in the years after he retired from football. Pam Webster had to take a job as a waitress to support her family, and the couple ultimately divorced, shortly before Mike’s death at age 50. He would become the first football player diagnosed with CTE. Pam Webster spoke to FRONTLINE’s Jim Gilmore on April 18, 2013.

    Just give me this sort of overview of what the disability fight was about, and why it took so long.

    Honestly, it went on forever because we're battling the NFL. They're the strongest entity in the world. You know, the Vatican and the NFL, you just don't question; you don't battle. We weren't getting a lot of cooperation from everyone. We're battling an institution that's never been battled here.

    So, you know, this was Mike's last fight, and his greatest fight, getting cooperation, getting help, getting -- I mean, we were quieted in every way we can. I don't know what the struggle was for Mike and Bob [Fitzsimmons, the attorney who argued his case against the NFL], because I was in Wisconsin just trying to get by, just trying to make it through the day with the kids and stuff. This was happening out in Pittsburgh.

    But we kept getting calls, "Well, you know, they're going to court." He was promising and promising that "When this is settled I'm going to get you a house. When this is settled, things are going to be right again." He wanted that dream to go back for us and the kids, even if he lost everything himself.

    It didn't go that way, though.

    No, it didn't.

    Why was the NFL fighting so forcefully to --

    Well, I don't think they wanted to acknowledge it. And if it wouldn't have been -- I've said this for years. If it hadn't been for Mike, if it was any other NFL player bar Terry Bradshaw or somebody of that stature, this thing would still be in litigation. I think it wouldn't be the issue it is right now.

    I think a player of Mike's regard, talent, respect, knowledge -- I mean, he was Iron Mike on and off the field. He was Mr. Webster. So it took somebody of his stature to bring this thing through and to see this battle through. I think it was a given. I just think he was chosen for this. The NFL picked the wrong opponent to battle in that one. Mike compared it often to David and Goliath. ...

    He would call this his greatest battle. He'd say it was like David and Goliath over and over, because it was. He was taking on something that was bigger than him.

    Was he taking it on only for himself and his family?

    No. Mike was not that selfish, you know. I think he wanted to prove that there was more to what was going on than just Mike having a headache or Mike losing his money. It was for the right reasons. He took on this battle for the right reasons. He was the right person to do it.

    Unfortunately, it cost us everything. You know, we haven't had compensation to bring him back. The kids would turn it around any day and say, "We'd rather have a father or a grandfather that we could do things with, that could read us stories, than" -- but we haven't had anything. So we've lost out on everything.

    Our main thing, our main goal in here is to make other families aware of not having to go through what we went through.

    Did he understand that he was brain-damaged?

    I think on some level he knew things were wrong. He couldn't hold a sentence. One thing he wrote was getting thoughts across were like trying to talk -- he compared it to tangled fishing wire. When fishing wire gets tangled you can't untangle it -- not even like a necklace, but fishing wire. It's clear and it's all tangled up. And that's how his thought process was.

    I don't think it was a battle just to, like a lawsuit or a disability lawsuit to just win money. It was to get the NFL to admit that they had something to do with it, that whether it be a cover-up or the knowledge or the fault, he wanted to speak for thousands like him. ...

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    Pam Webster   Wife of Mike Webster

    She watched her husband, Steelers legend Mike Webster, become confused, angry and violent in the years after he retired from football. Pam Webster had to take a job as a waitress to support her family, and the couple ultimately divorced, shortly before Mike’s death at age 50. He would become the first football player diagnosed with CTE. Pam Webster spoke to FRONTLINE’s Jim Gilmore on April 18, 2013.

    So when you look back at it, do you see -- you know, this is about a game, this is about football. Do you see the bottom line is that football destroyed his life, destroyed your life?

    No, no, I don't look at it at all like that. I think he paid a very high price for it. I don't see it as football destroying our life; I think brain injury because of football destroyed what we had and made it a lot harder than it had to be.

    I think the NFL certainly shirked the responsibility to the families left behind. You know, that's where my big issue is, the families left behind -- my children, my grandchildren, not so much me. I don't need a lot, but I think of the families and the players before Mike. ...

    Their position -- a lot of these NFL doctors to this day say the connection to, number one, CTE [chronic traumatic encephalopathy] is not proven to be connected to football.

    ... But if they admit it, it's going to cost them a lot of money, because it's kind of like their Pandora's box, because if they would have handled this right, saying "Oh, wow, we see that there's a problem; how can we help? What can we do to make this better?," instead of denying it, hiding it under the rug, waiting for somebody of Mike's stature to die to bring it to their attention.

    They fought us tooth and nail because they don't want to discuss this. You know, they didn't want it known.

    And if it wouldn't have been -- like I said all along, if it wouldn't have been for Mike, it wouldn't be known right now. Maybe when somebody of Mike's stature died again.

    You know -- the suicides, I think Mike didn't commit suicide because he loved his children so much; he couldn't do that to them. If he didn't have those children, yeah, he would have been gone long before. It was too hard for him to live. ...

    So one of these NFL doctors the other day told me that: "Listen, we don't know enough about the science, number one, of all this. And number two, I know a lot of retired football players, and you know what? They're doing fine. This idea that this illness is connected to this, and that there's so many people scared of getting CTE now, is ridiculous."

    Well, you know, I think if you're talking from a medical standpoint or if you're talking from a standpoint where you're diagnosing it, it's two different things of who's talking. If you talk to players, players' families, yeah, it scares the hell out of them. Would you want to end up like Mike Webster? I don't think so, for you or your family.

    But I think that now some of the preventative steps are guys aren't going to play that long. You're not going to see NFL players with 17-year careers. They're going to be short careers. So will they end up as bad as Mike? No. They're also being able to within the next few years, maybe diagnose it while the guy's still living. ...

    But, you know, at Mike's funeral, I looked at everybody else there. Some of the players were there, and I think, why did our lives change so much, and your life doesn't look like it changed at all? That was really hard to see our lives had changed so much. But then I think Mike's God-given quest was to make this issue, you know, when you look at the circumstances and the things involved, this was what he was supposed to do with his life. My biggest regret is I wasn't able to support him in the way I should have. ...

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    Dr. Bennet Omalu   Forensic pathologist who discovered CTE

    A forensic pathologist, Omalu conducted the autopsy of Pittsburgh Steelers center Mike Webster, which led to his discovery of a new disease that he named chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE. He is currently the chief medical examiner of San Joaquin County, Calif. and a professor in the UC Davis Department of Medical Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. He spoke to FRONTLINE’s Michael Kirk on March 25, 2013.

    So you walk into this autopsy room or whatever you call it, and there on the table is a big, heavy man, Mike Webster. Tell me the story of you walking in that room, what you see, what you do. ...

    ... So I was on call that Saturday morning. I woke up, fixed myself a cup of coffee. I was single. I was living in a condo. So I turned on the news to see what was going on, who was killing someone somewhere someplace.

    Because you knew that would appear on your table at some moment.

    Every day. (Laughs.)

    You mean you watched the news and see who dies.

    To see who dies and what my caseload will be. But ironically, all the channels were talking about this very prominent guy. I did not even know his name, Mike Webster.

    See, I grew up in Africa, in Nigeria. I never knew, I never had any reasonable encounter with football. I saw football on Sky News. I thought there were people dressed like extraterrestrials, you know, like they were going to Mars or something, headgears and shoulder pads. And I wondered why as a child why did they have to dress that way.

    So they were talking about this prominent guy who sold his Super Bowl rings, who did not compete well in the field of life after his retirement from football, who led somewhat an ignominious life from prominence to obscurity.

    Suddenly I wondered -- I'm like, "Wait a minute." If he played football for them to wear helmets and all those protective gear, that meant it was a violent game. That meant they were exposed to repeated trauma to justify the need to wear a helmet. And then I said to myself, if he had such a bizarre life after football, could this not be similar to what we see in boxers, dementia pugilistica? ...

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    CTE: Discovery of a New Disease

    Dr. Bennet Omalu   Forensic pathologist who discovered CTE

    A forensic pathologist, Omalu conducted the autopsy of Pittsburgh Steelers center Mike Webster, which led to his discovery of a new disease that he named chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE. He is currently the chief medical examiner of San Joaquin County, Calif. and a professor in the UC Davis Department of Medical Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. He spoke to FRONTLINE’s Michael Kirk on March 25, 2013.

    Doctor, when you looked at Mike Webster's body, when you look at any body but especially the body of a football player, do you start at the feet, and did you see injuries all over his body, his hands?

    No, no. Ironically, in fact I will tell you later, they don't have any injuries externally. They don't have any injuries externally.

    In fact, when I opened up his skull, in my mind I had a mental picture of what his brain would look like based on my education. I was expecting to see a brain with Alzheimer's disease features, so a shriveled, ugly-looking brain.

    But upon opening his skull, Mike's brain looked normal. It looked normal. So when I saw it -- and again, there was so much commotion outside I was oblivious of; I was focused on what I was doing. When I saw his brain, I was actually disappointed, and I'm like, "No, this is a joke."

    So the technician took out the brain, handed it over to me. For autopsies we examine the brain in the fresh state unless there is something unusual, then we fix the brain in a chemical called formalin so we could analyze it later.

    So I picked up the brain to cut it. I was thinking -- a lot was going on through my head. ... So I stopped. I said: "No, let me fix this brain. Let me spend time with this brain. There is something. Something doesn't match." ...

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    Dr. Bennet Omalu   Forensic pathologist who discovered CTE

    A forensic pathologist, Omalu conducted the autopsy of Pittsburgh Steelers center Mike Webster, which led to his discovery of a new disease that he named chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE. He is currently the chief medical examiner of San Joaquin County, Calif. and a professor in the UC Davis Department of Medical Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. He spoke to FRONTLINE’s Michael Kirk on March 25, 2013.

    You said "presenting symptomatology." What was the presenting symptomatology?

    That he lost all his money, that he was living like a vagabond, was a drug addict. He was suffering severe depression. Sometimes he couldn't find his way home. He had a progressive deterioration in his socioeconomic status, in his personal life and interpersonal relationships.

    At some point he was homeless. These are the constellation of symptoms that were published in 1927, and even before 1927, as far back as the 18th century. ...

    ... Besides shriveled, are there other things you can readily identify that say: "Wait a minute. This is something new. This is something different"?

    His age. His age alone. To have Alzheimer's disease at such a young age. It's either you have Down syndrome or you have one of the family of Alzheimer's; that is extremely rare, you find maybe in the Scandinavian countries, and there will be a family history. OK? When I heard his age and his symptoms, I dismissed it was not Alzheimer's disease period. And when I saw his brain then, even without doing any other study, I was convinced this was not Alzheimer's disease.

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    CTE: Discovery of a New Disease

    Dr. Bennet Omalu   Forensic pathologist who discovered CTE

    A forensic pathologist, Omalu conducted the autopsy of Pittsburgh Steelers center Mike Webster, which led to his discovery of a new disease that he named chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE. He is currently the chief medical examiner of San Joaquin County, Calif. and a professor in the UC Davis Department of Medical Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. He spoke to FRONTLINE’s Michael Kirk on March 25, 2013.

    OK, so you fixed the brain. They section it, they stain it, and they send you back slides. Is that --

    I fixed the brain, and because I did not understand what was going on, I chose to forget about it. It was causing me such distress, if you could call it that.

    Really?

    Yeah, because I couldn't explain it. So what I did was I went to the library and I started ordering papers. I remember one of the librarians called me, said he simply wanted to confirm I was who I was, because I was ordering too many papers, because I wanted to read, to find out is there some disease entity I wasn't aware of. But I kept on going.

    In the literature, everybody was giving it descriptive names, like nobody gave it generic names. Nobody had the, I could say the courage to give it a specific disease, identify it as a specific disease entity, describe the pathology, OK, so that eventually it would have its own international Classification of Diseases number. ...

    So I processed the brain; I examined his brain. There were no features of Alzheimer's disease. I kept it very quiet, because I was afraid. My youthful exuberance was manifesting itself -- I was aware of that -- so I kept it very quiet. I could be wrong. So I did this.

    I sent the tissues to the University of Pittsburgh brain lab to Dr. [Ronald] Hamilton, who was my teacher, a very good guy. So they ran the tests. Nobody knew whose brain it was. So one day I stopped over for a conference, and I stopped over at the lab to pick it up. I got it. I was afraid to look at it. So I left it on my desk for maybe another couple of months, because I was, you know --

    What were you afraid of?

    Of the unknown. I was afraid of letting Mike down. (Laughs.) I was afraid. I don't know. I was afraid I was going to fail.

    So one day I had a very busy day. It was I think a Friday night. I was single, was at work around 7:00, was in my office. … So I saw his slides. So I said, "Oh, Mike Webster." So I pulled them down.

    While munching on my apple I put the slides in and looked. Whoa. I had to make sure the slides were Mike Webster's slides. I looked again. I looked again. I saw changes that shouldn't be in a 50-year-old man's brains, and also changes that shouldn't be in a brain that looked normal. …

    I saw abnormal proteins in his brain, so-called neurofibrillary tangles, threads. But I looked at several, you know, the topographic distribution. It was different from Alzheimer's disease. Again, that complicated my disposition, my state of mind. So I took the slides home, said, "This is something I need to spend time with." ...

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    Life After Football

    Jim Otto   Center, Oakland Raiders (1960-74)

    In 14 seasons of play for the Oakland Raiders, Jim Otto played had a punishing history of injuries. He needed 74 surgeries for his football injuries, including the amputation of one of his legs. This interview was conducted by FRONTLINE’s Tom Jennings on Dec. 22, 2012.

    ... What about ... when you heard about Mike Webster's decline afterward, you know? He became homeless, those stories. What were your first thoughts when you started hearing those stories after his retirement?

    My first thoughts were, I got sick. I got upset. I said why isn't there somebody taking care of him? Why isn't there somebody that can help him? There wasn't anybody. We had the same thing, similar, happen to a center who took my place after I retired, Dave Dalby. ...

    Do you associate Dalby and Webster's post-career declines and troubles with the hard-hitting nature of the game?

    I look at Dave Dalby, because he used to tell me he wanted to follow me in my footsteps. And he told me that so many times: "Pops, I'm going to be just like you. I'm going to be just like you, Pops." And he hung with me. We'd go hunting together; we did a lot of different things together, Dave and I. He would come and help me put up hay for my horses and stuff like that. And we were together a lot. And that's why Sally and I came to the forefront ... Did anybody do anything for Mike Webster with Pittsburgh? Was there anybody that helped Mike Webster go through rehab at that time? When you have nobody helping you in a situation like that, I would imagine it's a pretty empty feeling to be going through life with that problem and nobody is coming to help you. And I wanted to be a help to David. I wanted to help Dave Dalby and Sally did to because we loved him and I didn't see that happening in Pittsburgh with Mike Webster. And that is the bad thing.

    We need people in the National Football League now, and I think we have various different projects going within the NFL -- the NFL Players Association, the NFL Alumni -- to help these guys now, because I did go to the Alumni, I did go to the Players Association and get monies from them for other rehabs for other players.

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    CTE: Discovery of a New Disease

    Steve Young   Quarterback, San Francisco 49ers (1987-99)

    Steve Young played quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers and suffered seven concussions before retiring in 1999. A Hall of Fame quarterback, Young told FRONTLINE he worries about the toll that routine head hits are taking on linemen and running backs. This is the edited transcript of an interview conducted with FRONTLINE’s Jim Gilmore on March 27, 2013.

    ... So Mike Webster dies in 2002, I think. There is Dr. [Bennet] Omalu who studies it and finds CTE [chronic traumatic encephalopathy] in the brain, and then there is this big debate going on about whether that means anything or not. The NFL has one position. Some experts come out and sort of say, "Wait a minute; there is something going on here."

    Sure.

    As that debate is going on, when do you tie into it? What is your thinking about it?

    It was later, to be honest with you.

    2007. It really doesn't hit the main media until 2007.

    And I think as players -- now I was working with ESPN. I had followed the game pretty closely. I think that's when it became much more obvious to guys that there was something possibly here, a pattern, because, you know, you play; thousands of guys play. There is going to be anomalies; there is going to be someone has an experience that is an outlier. That's true in our daily lives, too. There is people that have situations, conditions or things that happen that are just outside the bell curve, and that's a truth.

    So I think until it became clear that this might be in the bell curve, you know, that's when I think people started to say, "Holy cow, is this something that I need to really pay attention to?" And I think that's what I'm grateful for, is knowledge is power with anything. And for players today knowledge is, "OK," because to me the fair way to look at this is assumption of the risk. Do you truly understand what that is? And people make that decision all the time. There are people that do, to me, outlandish things -- ride bulls. That's insane. The assumption of the risk is way too high.

    Football for me, I don't -- it doesn't -- that's just my personal experience, but as long as I know the assumption of the risk and I understand it, I can make what can be a rational decision. If I don't understand it, there is something more that is not clear or obvious, then that needs to get aligned. And that's why the league and everyone needs to get as fast as they can alignment on that, because that's the only fair way to let people continue to do it.

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