Hall of Famers Dorsett, DeLamielleure Show CTE Signs, ESPN Says

Pro Football Hall of Fame players Tony Dorsett and Joe DeLamielleure have been diagnosed with evidence of a progressive brain disease caused by head trauma and linked to dementia, according to ESPN.

The brains of Dorsett, DeLamielleure and former New York Giants defensive end Leonard Marshall all show signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, which can cause mood swings, depression, loss of memory and increased irritability, ESPN reported today. The trio had brain scans and evaluations this year at the University of California, Los Angeles, according to the report, which cited unidentified doctors familiar with the results.

Dorsett rushed for 12,739 yards and 77 touchdowns in a 12-year National Football League career spent mostly with the Dallas Cowboys. The 1976 Heisman Trophy winner as college football’s top player told ESPN that he sometimes forgets where he’s driving and is prone to outbursts at his wife and daughters.

“It’s painful, man, for my daughters to say they’re scared of me,” Dorsett, 59, said. “It’s painful.

CTE causes abnormal, small tangles of a protein in the brain, and may include extensive cell death and shrinkage of the brain. It was first described in studies of boxers who developed dementia and symptoms resembling Parkinson’s disease.

The NFL reached a $765 million settlement this year with more than 5,000 former players seeking damages for head injuries. The money will help cover medical monitoring and fund research on concussions, according to the agreement.

DeLamielleure, 62, played 13 seasons as an offensive tackle with the Buffalo Bills and the Cleveland Browns. Marshall, 52, won Super Bowl titles with the Giants after the 1986 and 1990 seasons.

Autopsies of more than 50 former NFL players have found evidence of CTE, including those of Hall of Fame center Mike Webster and 12-time Pro Bowl linebacker Junior Seau, who committed suicide last year at age 43. UCLA tested five other former NFL players in 2012 and found evidence of CTE in all five, the first time the disease was detected in living players, the report said.

-- Editors: Larry Siddons, Michael Sillup

To contact the reporter on this story: Eben Novy-Williams in New York at enovywilliam@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at msillup@bloomberg.net

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