Hall of Fame running back from the Buffalo Bills Thurman Thomas has largely stayed quiet since his retirement from the NFL. However, the well-known former football player recently broke his silence to go on record about the impact of brain injuries in football and NFL.
Speaking at a concussion summit in Niagra Falls, Ontario, Thomas spoke out about the symptoms he experiences following his 13 year NFL career, such as mood swings, confusion, and memory loss.
Like many former football players, Thomas is struggling to live with the effects of his long career in the NFL – often forgetting where he is and losing his train of thought to the point where he takes notes with him everywhere he goes.
Despite only having a few documented brain injuries during his career, Thomas told the crowd that a doctor said his frontal lobe resembles “someone who had fallen off the top of a house, on to the front of his head, or going through a windshield of a car several times” but was “decent… for an NFL football player.”
Respectfully, Thomas doesn’t seem mad at the NFL or his collegiate football staff for the head trauma he experienced during his tenure.
“I know the doctors, the trainers, they were doing everything that they possibly could,” Thomas told the crowd. They didn’t have the technology and the knowledge that they have today. I’m sure they had a little bit, but … this was back in 1984.”
However, Thurman Thomas made it clear that things have changed and that the serious medical risks of repeated concussions in football need to be talked about openly. He directly challenged the idea that discussing the impacts of football and CTE make players “weak” or disloyal to the sport he loves.
“One thing that I realized is that discussing the effects of concussions and the reality of the situation doesn’t make me less of a man, less tough, less loyal to the National Football League, a less love for the game,” he said.
“All it means is that I’m not an ignorant fool, and that I don’t ignore factual evidence that this is happening to not only football players, but [to other athletes].”
Thomas’s perspective shows that concussions are becoming an undeniable issue in the sport, but increased awareness and an open dialogue don’t harm the sport. Instead, football must face its concussion crisis to protect its players and its own legacy.