The repercussions of C.T.E., which can’t be definitively diagnosed until after an individual’s death but is routinely present in football players when researchers are allowed to conduct post-mortem examinations, might be jarringly conspicuous: episodes of confusion and memory loss, spasms of anger and argument and steep declines in communication and decision-making skills.
“You only see them really turn into someone totally different,” said Heike Crane, the widow of Paul Crane, who played center and linebacker for Alabama and ultimately developed C.T.E. before his death in 2020.
About 60 years ago, though, long before C.T.E. was a recognized risk, football at a spot like Alabama was a waypoint to wealth, stature and envy. Even now, amid their agony, players and their families are sometimes reluctant to wish football away from campuses or American culture. Change the game, some say, but keep playing it.
Head Injuries and C.T.E. in Sports
The everlasting damage attributable to brain injuries to athletes can have devastating effects.
For lots of the men who played, health threats were worthy personal sacrifices back then.
“I used to be from form of a small town in Tennessee,” said Steve Sloan, an Alabama starting quarterback within the Nineteen Sixties who was later the athletic director there and the football coach at Duke, Mississippi, Texas Tech and Vanderbilt.
“I desired to get a scholarship, and I desired to get a level, and if it took hits in the pinnacle, then it was all right,” said Sloan, who said he had not experienced the severe symptoms of C.T.E. “I’m just lucky.”
The Decline of a Merry Life
Very like Sloan, Ray Perkins got here to Tuscaloosa in the hunt for a life beyond the agricultural town where he was raised. Bryant, who won six national championships before his death in 1983 and whose name is now on the 100,077-seat campus stadium, was the draw.