The NFL doesn’t exactly have a sterling reputation when it comes to dealing with former players with brain injuries that will impact them for the rest of their lives. It probably won’t change its stance here, because it never does, but hopefully the league will take care of Dwight Clark and Gale Sayers after the two announced that they have been diagnosed with brain diseases.
Clark, who is 60 and played with the San Francisco 49ers for nine years, announced on Twitter that he has been diagnosed with ALS.
Clark released a statement in the tweet, and while he said that it is “still very hard” to say that he was diagnosed with the condition, he told the story behind how he learned that he had Lou Gehrig’s disease.
In September of 2015, I started feeling weakness in my left hand. I was mildly paying attention to it because since
my playing days, I’ve constantly had pain in my neck. I was thinking it was related to some kind of nerve damage
because it would just come and go.
After months of tests and treatment, I got some bad news. I was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
In addition to losing strength in my left hand – which makes opening a pack of sugar or buttoning my shirt impossible – I have now experienced weakness in my right hand, abs, lower back and right leg. I can’t run, play golf or walk any distances. Picking up anything over 30 pounds is a chore. The one piece of good news is that the disease seems to be progressing more slowly than in some patients.