Former NFL player Michael Current – an offensive lineman who played 13 seasons in the NFL with the Denver Broncos, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Miami Dolphins – was facing charges of “sexually assaulting three minors from 2004 to 2010." State police officials in Marion County, Oregon say this six-foot-five, 274-pound lineman noted having his “bell rung” many, many times in his book “Rememberin’ Life in the Trenches.”
Also, those who knew Current, 66, in the Silverton Pop Warner youth football league, told media in nearby Salem that “Jim often complained about headaches and problems with his head due to repeated concussions.” The Salem newspaper, the Statesman Journal, stated that Current’s body was found Jan. 16 at the Basket Slough National Wildlife Refuge viewing area. “Polk County sheriff's officials said he had apparently fatally shot himself with a shotgun.” Current also has lived in Silverton, where he volunteered as a youth football coach. The wildlife refuge where Current’s body was found is about 25 miles west of Salem.
NFL players getting their “bell rung” more often today
“We are always saddened to learn of a tragedy involving a former Bronco, and our hearts go out to Mike’s family and friends during this most difficult time," the Denver Broncos said in a press statement issued the day after Current’s apparent suicide.
In turn, the NFL has lost many former players due to either permanent brain damage or suicide as a result of the upwards of 15 to 20 concussions, on average, that most NFL players suffer with after playing high school, college and then professional football. Concussion is from the Latin word “concutere” which means “to shake violently,” or “action of striking together.”
Today, the NFL calls on-field concussions – such as the massive concussion Tim Tebow survived just before turning professional as a college player – as traumatic brain injury (MTBI). That’s now commonly used in sports medicine to describe the “temporary loss of brain function” that both Tebow and fellow Bronco Current suffered while simply playing a game.
In turn, it's known Current suffered numerous concussions while playing football in the Sixties when protection for players was far less than it is today.
In both Current's book on "playing NFL football in the trenches," where lineman like Current got "real banged-up," and among those who knew him here in the Salem area, say that he had "football concussion issues."
Current played for the AFL Broncos from 1967 through 1969, and for the NFL Broncos from 1970 through 1975.
Duerson killed himself one year ago
It was last February that former four-time Pro Bowl safety Dave Duerson committed suicide like his former NFL playing mate Mike Current.
While Current shot himself in the head, Duerson killed himself with a gun wound to the chest, The New York Times reported that Duerson also “sent text messages to family asking that his brain be examined for chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a condition linked to dozens of deceased NFL players."
For example, it’s known that other top players still living -- such as Steve Young, Troy Aikman and Terry Bradshaw, to name a few -- also admit to “numerous” on field concussions that forced them to either retire early from the game. They now have ‘brain issues” that impact their quality of life; while having a huge bank account does not help a damaged brain.
In fact, even one concussion suffered either in high school, college or in the NFL, can come back to haunt players because doctors state that concussion brain injuries don't heal. There's nothing that can stop players from suffering a massive smash to the brain, in the same way as Tim Tebow's when he played college football.
In turn, Duerson's family has agreed to donate his brain to Boston University's medical school for its study of the degenerative disease, which has been tied to depression, dementia and occasionally suicide in the former players, according to the report.
Before taking his life, Duerson had spoken openly about wanting to donate his brain to science. According to Fox Sports, on behalf of the family, a representative of the NFL Players Association contacted the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy at Boston University School of Medicine to secure the donation.
The center stated how Duerson’s brain will undergo a battery of studies “looking for any disease or abnormality, but focused on chronic traumatic encephalopathy, which has been found in a number of former athletes.”
Duerson's brain mirrors many players today
CSTE is a collaboration between Boston University Medical School and the Sports Legacy Institute that is attempting to address what it calls the "concussion crisis" in sports. The group has been at the forefront of research into sports head trauma and has received a $1 million gift from the NFL, which pushed for better treatment of concussions, despite previous resistance to acknowledging the issue. Some believe that there is a link between concussions and suicide.
In a macabre twist, that may become a legacy for all men who play the game of football with the same zeal and intensity as Mike Current, Duerson left a note stating: “Please, see that my brain is given to the NFL’s brain bank.”
Today, for the one year anniversary of Duerson’s suicide, scientists announced that Duerson’s brain tissue showed “advanced” evidence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a dementia-like brain disease afflicting all athletes who play football, and are “exposed to repeated brain trauma called a concussion.”
Image source of the “Hippocratic Corpus,” a collection of medical works from ancient Greece that first mentions the term “concussion,” later translated to “commotio cerebri, meaning loss of speech, hearing and sight that can result from “commotion of the brain.” Photo courtesy Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concussion