Former Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre is suffering some significant memory loss at just 44 years of age, thanks to years of hard tackles and concussions on the football field
“I think after 20 years [of football] God only knows the toll,” Favre, who was sacked a record 525 times, told ESPN. “This was a little shocking to me, that I couldn’t remember my daughter playing youth soccer.
Brett added: “I remember her playing basketball. I remember her playing volleyball, so I think maybe she only played a game or two. I think she played eight. So that’s a little bit scary to me. For the first time in 44 years, that put a little fear in me.”
Favre’s admission comes on the heels of a massive class-action lawsuit filed in 2012 against the National Football League, where over 4,000 former players alleged the NFL deliberately concealed evidence of the link between football-related head injuries and long-term neurological damage.
The NFL settled that lawsuit in August 2013, and agreed to pay $765 million to players and their families.
The class action followed the shocking suicides of several former pro football stars, including legendary linerbacker Junior Seau, who shot himself to death at the age of 43. Seau’s tragic suicide was reminiscent of the 2011 suicide of Dave Duerson, who also died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound at age 50.
In his suicide note, Duerson asked that his brain be donated to a research center because he believed the head trauma he suffered during his football career had caused him to suffer irreparable brain damage. Duerson’s final words were: “Please, see that my brain is given to the N.F.L.’s brain bank.”
In April 2012, former Atlanta Falcons star Ray Easterling shot himself to death at his home at age 62. At the time of his suicide, Easterling had been in the midst of a lawsuit against the NFL. Easterling’s widow said Ray had complained of depression, insomnia and dementia for the past 20 years.
Medical experts say suffering repeated blows to the head causes brain injuries that eventually lead to depression, dementia and death. The medical community has found evidence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (a degenerative brain disease) posthumously in over 30 retired NFL players. The condition has been linked to cognitive impairment, depression and suicide.
Earlier this year, President Barack Obama — a huge football fan — said if he had a son, he probably would not allow him to play college football because of the risk of long-term physical and neurological damage. Meanwhile, a new study from the University of Wisconsin concluded that there is no such thing as a concussion-proof football helmet.
Obama, 52, said the violence in both college and professional football makes the game more exciting for viewers but extremely dangerous for players.
“In some cases, [less violence] may make it a little bit less exciting, but it will be a whole lot better for the players, and those of us who are fans maybe won’t have to examine our consciences quite as much,” said Obama.
Brett Favre, who hasn’t played in the NFL since 2010, is happy to be away from the game. “My family took a backseat for 20 years,” he said. “I’ve taken trips that I never thought I’d take [after retirement]. I’ve gone to Yellowstone, and I’ve gone to Glacier National Park. We’ve gone down to the Bahamas. We’ve done things that everybody in my family just kind of waited for.
“I want to live a long time. I want to live healthy, as close to a normal life as I can.”