Hall of fame defensive lineman Warren Sapp says he suffers from memory loss and wants his brain donated to science when he dies.
The 44-year-old, who won the Super Bowl with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and played in the NFL for 13 seasons, spoke at a time when brain trauma among footballers has come under increased scrutiny. Sapp’s fellow hall of famer, Junior Seau, killed himself in 2012 and was found to have the degenerative brain condition CTE, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy. CTE is often found in athletes who have suffered from head trauma during their careers.
“We’re playing in a macho league and we’re talking about hall of famers now who are immortalized forever, made busts and everything. Legends of the game,” Sapp said in a video on the Players’ Tribune. “There’s no way any of us wanna really admit that we can’t remember how to get home, or a grocery list that the wife has given us or how to go pick up our kids to the school, or whatever it may be.
“You try to [say] ‘all right, I’m gonna get a little more sleep, maybe it’s something I did last night, maybe something I drank,’ or whatever it is. You try to find a reason that it’s not that it’s my brain. That I’m not deteriorating right before my own eyes. It’s the most frightening feeling, but it’s also a very weakening feeling because you feel like a child. I need help. I need somebody to help me find something that I could’ve found with my eyes closed, in the dead of night, half asleep.”
Sapp said he needed his phone to help him remember daily appointments. “I mean with the reminders in the phones it really helped me get through my day with appointments and different things that I have to do, because it’s just, I can’t remember any more like I used to,” he said.
Sapp added he was in no doubt that his football career had led to his memory problems. “It’s from the banging we did as football players. We used to tackle them by the head, used to grab facemasks. We used to allow Deacon Jones to do the head slap. All of that was something that we had to take away from the game. We used to hit quarterbacks below the knees. Now it’s a strike zone. Let’s keep making the game better.”
Last month Tom Brady’s wife, Gisele Bundchen, spoke about her concerns for her husband. “He had a concussion last year. He has concussions pretty much every … I mean, we don’t talk about it. He does have concussions,” Bundchen said on CBS’s This Morning. “I don’t really think it’s a healthy thing for a body to go through that kind of aggression all the time. That could not be healthy for you.” The Patriots have never reported Brady as suffering a concussion.