Just days after former Chicago Bear Dave Duerson committed suicide — by shooting himself in the chest so his brain could be preserved for study — GQ has the gut wrenching story of former Viking linebacker Fred McNeill, whose life has fallen apart around him due to dementia.McNeill studied economics at UCLA and went to law school after leaving the NFL and made partner at a large Minnesota law firm. Years later he was fired and began to lose a string of steady jobs, due to an inability to remember or complete tasks.
He began to forget his who his friends were. He filed for bankruptcy and his wife left him. Only years later did they discover that it was brain damage most likely caused by his years of crushing people on the football field. See if this quote sounds familiar:
“I didn’t want to hurt anybody. But then I realised if they got a great running back and you hurt him, you might win the game, you know? So actually I started seeing that as a thing to do. To hurt them so they have to leave the game.”
Fred is 58 now, but can’t remember more than four words given to him in a memory test. He still pays to have an office for legal practice that doesn’t exist. He estranged wife and their kids look after him because his doctor says he shouldn’t be allowed to drive. He’s hanging on … barely.
“I’ll take a period of time,” he said to Tia. “90 days, and then I can start all over as an attorney. That’s if my brain is healed.”
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