Former Cowboys running back Tony Dorsett says he has signs of CTE

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by GEORGE RIBA and MARIE SAAVEDRA

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WFAA

Posted on November 7, 2013 at 2:18 PM

Updated Thursday, Nov 7 at 8:59 PM

DALLAS — Tony Dorsett was dominating on the field.

Tough. Strong. And now he's slowly suffering.

The former Dallas Cowboys running back confirmed to ESPN’s "Outside the Lines" that he was diagnosed with signs of CTE, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy.


“I get frustrated. I get frustrated and I look at myself... you're just in this shell,” Dorsett told ESPN. “You're not Anthony Tony Dorsett. You're not him anymore. Who are you?”

There are pauses in his speech and fits of yelling at his wife and daughters.

“It's getting worse and worse as the days go by,” he said. “My short temperedness... I'm really short tempered. It just gets worse.”

During an interview with WFAA back in March, Dorsett said he was dealing with the effects of concussions sustained while piling up more than 12,000 yards rushing as a pro. The situation had gotten so bad he said he had trouble even watching a half-hour TV show.

"There's no way," he said. "I just get bored with it. I’m not following it as well."

Dorsett, 59, was elected in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1994.

"I’ve got these mood swings," Dorsett said. "I’m real temperamental. When I get into this fog, I can’t focus. I can’t concentrate on anything.”

He said he has no idea how many concussions he suffered during his playing days with the Cowboys.

Dorsett told ESPN’s "Outside the Lines" that he even gets lost when he drives his daughters to a soccer or volleyball game and has to ask his wife for directions. He said he was notified on Monday that he was diagnosed with signs of the disease.

Dorsett also admitted that he’s battled depression, along with thoughts of ending it all.

“I'm too smart of a person, I'd like to think, to take my life. But it's crossed my mind,” he said.

Dorsett is one of three former NFL stars who underwent brain scans and clinical tests during the last few months at UCLA.

"I could see why sometimes some guys got suicidal because you’re just not yourself,” Dorsett told WFAA.

He said it hit him about four or five years ago and has been searching for relief ever since.

Thursday afternoon, some of Dorsett's former teammates shared their reaction at a charity golf tournament in Dallas.

"When you’re an athlete and you’re competing, you’re not thinking about what you’re going to feel like when you’re 60 years old,” said former defensive tackle Randy White.

“I was very devastated to hear the news. But I understand why it happened,” said former Cowboy Timmy Newsome. “Those collisions come at a cost and we have to take care of players that played in those days and I think this is about that.”

“I'm definitely one of those guys that hit him a lot in practice, you know,” said former Cowyboy Bill Bates. “It's just part of it. It's part of football.”

Researchers have found traces of CTE in more than 50 former NFL players who have died and undergone autopsies.

“We're going to do all we can to support Tony, his family, anybody else that's suffering from this devastating result on one’s health,” said Preston Pearson, another former player. 

Each of the men praised Dorsett's fighting spirit. It's the same one that pushes him to bring attention to the pain he suffers from playing the sport he loves.

Email griba@wfaa.com

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