Another sad outcome for an NFL great.
Former Chicago Bears quarterback Jim McMahon revealed to the media this week that he has been struggling with dementia and depression. He believes his issues were caused by the beating endured while playing football.
McMahon said he would stay in his room and lie in the dark because the pain in his head was so bad. Other times he would get in his car and forget the way home. At his worst, McMahon had thoughts of suicide.
“I am glad I don’t have any weapons in my house or else I am pretty sure I wouldn’t be here,” McMahon said. “I can see how some of these guys have ended their lives, because of the pain.”
McMahon is involved in two lawsuits that could have serious consequences for the NFL. One accuses teams of illegally dispensing powerful painkillers to players without any concern for their long-term health. The second is the well-known concussion lawsuit that the NFL tried to settle for $765M – pocket change to the nine billion dollar a year league.
McMahon said he had up to five diagnosed concussions and many more undiagnosed concussions during his playing years. He also suffered from an addiction to painkillers, broken ribs, a kidney injury, and a broken neck that McMahon says went purposefully undiagnosed by team doctors.
Five years ago McMahon went in for X-rays and an MRI. Doctors discovered that his neck had been broken at some point. McMahon thinks it happened in 1993 when he played for the Minnesota Vikings.
The 20-year-old injury now causes spinal fluid to back up in his brain resulting in severe pain, memory disturbances, and depression. By working with medical specialists, McMahon is able to realign his neck to drain the excess fluid so that the pain disappears along with his memory loss and mood swings. The relief is temporary, lasting only a few months at a time.
The dementia is ongoing.
“The NFL continues to make billions and billions of dollars every year,” McMahon said. “And some of these guys are homeless. They don’t know who they are, and they were the ones who built this brand to where it’s at.”