TBI – Survivors, Caregivers, Family, and Friends

Wanting A “Sound Mind,” 30-Year-Old Football Player Retires



Donna O’Donnell Figurski



Husain Abdullah – NFL Player

For seven years, Husain Abdullah played football in the National Football League (NFL), the premier professional football league in the United States. For four years, Abdullah, a safety, played with the Minnesota Vikings, and, for three years, he played with the Kansas City Chiefs. He graciously thanked both teams for allowing him to play. In the 2015 season, he had the fifth concussion of his career. While he was recovering, he thought about his many life-goals. Husain realized that he would need a “sound mind” to achieve his goals.

The research showing a link between the head trauma of football and the neurodegenerative disease CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) is thought-provoking, and it has several players concerned. Even the NFL has admitted that there is a link between playing football and CTE, although the league later tried to downplay its comment. (CTE, originally known as “dementia pugilistica,” had only been seen in the brains of some boxers.

Dr. Bennet Omalu -

Dr. Bennet Omalu –

Dr. Bennet Omalu was the first to find the disease elsewhere – in a football player. Dr. Omalu renamed the disease “CTE.” Dr. Omalu’s discovery is the subject of the December 2015 movie Concussion, starring Will Smith. The real-life story is told in the PBS Frontline documentary, League of Denial: The NFL’s Concussion Crisis – available free online.)

Abdullah’s retirement follows other early retirements, most notably that of San Francisco 49er star rookie linebacker, Chris Borland, who cited the high risk of brain disease as his reason for retiring after playing only one year. Another rookie, Green Bay Packer wide receiver Adrian Coxson, retired after getting a severe concussion in practice and being told that the next hit might seriously affect his brain function or kill him.

Abdullah Husain - NFL Player

Abdullah Husain – NFL Player

It remains to be seen if Husain Abdullah’s retirement will be the last early retirement in the NFL due to football’s risk to the brain. (Full story)


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Comments on: "SPEAK OUT! NewsBit: . . . . . . Wanting A “Sound Mind,” 30-Year-Old Football Player Retires" (5)

  1. Charles Ross Jr said:

    I had a traumatic brain injury in a car accident when I was 18, years old, 31 years ago. I have been reading and hearing so much recently of the Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in football players primarily, but also other sports. I recognize that this is caused by the repeated hitting of the head, shaking the brain against the inner portion of the jagged skull causing brain injury to football players. This can cause debilitating injuries to these players in the future of the football players.
    I was curious, how many people, everyday people who do not play football, or have never played football, also suffer from CTE? I find it odd that only studies are done on football players. Do more people than football players have this. Could it be caused from car accidents, falls, abuse, strokes, any neuro degenerative disease, or just old age?
    If CTE can be caused by these other factors, what percentage of people does it occur in? If it does occur in just normal people who never played sports, who is to say that the ex-football player suffered this after playing football.
    My accident was in 1985, and my short term and long term memories were affected. I was in a coma for 50 days, and was not expected to live, but I did. I take Alzheimers med to help me with my memory, and have for many years. My neurologist just took me off one of the medicines, because based on my head injury, he believed it was not helping me, nor going to help me. I am supposed to try to watch and see if my memory goes backwards now.
    The question is, am I going to have CTE? If I am, how many other people in everyday life will also get it? If everyday people can get it, were the hits and bumps a football player receives while playing football responsible? Did he receive the injury in everyday life, or did it occur during practice of a game of football?
    I am not trying to be act like head injuries or death does not occur during the sport of football, but if a stat of fifty, sixty, seventy percent of players or higher suffer from CTE, give an accurate number of everday people too. Otherwise, the number is really meaningless. That is just how I feel


    • Dear Charles,

      I’m not sure if extensive studies have been done on non-football player brains. CTE has so recently come to the forefront when Dr. Bennet Omalu discovered it in the autopsied brain of Pittsburgh Steeler, Mike Webster. Since then Boston University has jumped on the wagon to research and identify CTE in more than 90 autopsied brains of football players.

      Scientists are trying to find ways to identify CTE in living brains, but that will take time – as does all research.

      They say that CTE develops after multiple hits to the head (concussions.) So, I don’t know if a single car accident, fall, or blunt force to the head will result in CTE. I think time will tell. But, at least with the identification in the brains of deceased football players, science has a place to start.

      All best,

      Donna O’Donnell Figurski


  2. Anthony V. Fasano, DM(P), DC, PhD said:

    Enjoyed reading the article and the comment. The problem, the way I see it is that once the diagnosis of CTE is rendered, the problem may be to advanced for help. I write that statement not as one who has read much of the research, but as one who had studied and taught human Gross Anatomy and Neuroanatomy for over 49 years, and has developed a treatment protocol that is very effective treating CTE, PCS, Migraines and some of the symptoms of PTSD. I deal with the anatomical root cause of many of the clinical symptoms, before the get to the point of debilitation. If you are interested in the theory of this treatment, look up Fasano Integrative Technique on Facebook. On that page I explain about CTE, and the rationale involving what happens to the “Brain when it is traumatized by a concussive force”.


    • Anthony Fasano,

      Thank you for your thoughtful comments about CTE and for your work in trying to help those with CTE. I will take a look at your site on Facebook. I appreciate your sending it to me.

      Donna O’Donnell Figurski


  3. […] assured by the league that there is minimal risk. [Some players have quit or retired early (1, 2). Recently, a class-action lawsuit about concussions brought by former players against the NFL was […]


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