PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — He made a career of staring down opponents and getting past them with apparent ease, but Hall of Fame running back Tony Dorsett says he’s certain he has CTE, degenerative brain disease.
It’s proven to be a scary opponent, until yesterday.
“I was in UCLA talking to some doctors there and come to find out they kind of feel it can be reversed,” said Dorsett. “They know it can be slowed down, cut it off at the path.”
The pride of Hopewell High, Pitt Panthers’ legend, NFL Hall of Famer, husband and father says he is doing everything he is asked by his doctors.
“You can do things through diet, nutrition, pills, vitamins,” said Dorsett. “I’m taking it day by day, but my quality of living is deteriorating, and is detonating as the days go by.”
Dorsett says the aftermath of the game that gave him his legendary life is slowly taking his mental capabilities.
“Remembering people’s names; I take my kids to practice for years, and all of a sudden, I don’t know how to get there,” Dorsett said. “Those kinds of things, it’s very frustrating. It makes me mad; it’s just a real frustrating thing I’m going through, but again, I’m trying to be proactive rather than inactive and trying to cut it off.”
World-renowned neurosurgeon Dr. Joseph Maroon wonders about Dorsett’s diagnosis of CTE.
“The only way to diagnosis it is with an autopsy after death,” said Dr. Maroon, a UPMC neurosurgeon.
But he says there is no downside to Dorsett’s doctors prescribing what appear to be all the known treatments for degenerative brain diseases.
“All of those together may reduce inflammation of the brain, and at least arrest the process,” Dr. Maroon said. “We don’t know that for sure, but certainly, what else do you have to try?”
There is no doubt those UCLA docs have lit a flame of hope for Dorsett.
“Even if it can’t be reversed, if they can stop at this point, I’ll feel a lot better about the situation,” said Dorsett.
His cognitive issues aside the Aliquippa native says he is heading home on Friday to reunite with some of his 1976 national championship teammates.
They will be on the sidelines here at Heinz Field Saturday night for Pitt-Notre Dame game.