Three other 1972 dolphins suffered from severe brain disease linked to head trauma, studies show | national news

Jake Scott plotted to leave life as he lived it and asked friends around the world to help him. Hawaii. Colorado. Georgia. They checked on the former Miami Dolphins great daily, performed small chores or even allowed Scott to move in for weeks at a time.

“Jake was aware of his issues, and he set it up with these friends so he could continue his traveling circuit each year and live as independently as possible,” said Rita Fabal, sister of the deceased. defensive back.

Why Scott needed help, perhaps why he fell and then died aged 75 in 2020, becomes the ultimate price of footballing perfection. Along with his 1972 Dolphins teammates Jim Kiick and Nick Buoniconti, Scott suffered from the most severe stage 4 of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, a degenerative brain disease linked to repeated head trauma that can only be discovered after death.

Posthumous examination results from Boston University’s CTE Center mean that all six Perfect Season Dolphins players whose brains were examined after death suffered from CTE. It was discovered that Earl Morrall, Bob Kuechenberg and Bill Stanfill had advanced stages of CTE in 2020.

Forty-nine years ago, these Dolphins players ended the NFL’s only undefeated season with a Super Bowl win in Los Angeles, site of Sunday’s Super Bowl game between the Cincinnati Bengals and Los Rams. Angeles.

Scott was named Super Bowl Most Valuable Player with two interceptions in that 1972 season’s win over Washington. Buoniconti had another interception in the game. Kiick scored the second touchdown.

Now, in the shadow of another Super Bowl, they are shadow-bound by a disease that attacks aging football players and has damaged their lives in different but defining ways.

Kiick, who died at 73 in 2020, spent his final years in an assisted living facility in Broward and suffered from dementia and Parkinson’s disease as well as CTE, said Ann McKee, chief of neuropathology at the VA Boston Healthcare System. and Director of the CET Center.

Buoniconti, a Hall of Fame linebacker who founded The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, documented his memory loss and physical descent in an HBO special before he died at age 78 in 2019.

Scott noticed constant mental deterioration for years and prepared for it, his sister said. It involved day-to-day things like writing down her cellphone phone numbers on a piece of paper after it became difficult to retrieve them.

His sister took care of paying his bills. Her husband, Randy Fabal, arranged Scott’s trips or helped him with day-to-day issues. The Fabals built a cottage behind their home in Key West so that Scott could have equal measures of care and independence during his stays.

“He was joking about his problems,” his sister said. “He had hand tremors and he was like, ‘I need a drink. ”

Scott also documented all of the injuries he remembered on three pages. This included head injuries after being knocked out at home plate in a third-year baseball game to being knocked out by Buffalo guard Jim Braxton while with the Dolphins. Scott, lost to the world, wandered into the Buffalo locker room after that game.

“[Buffalo running back] OJ Simpson took him back to the Dolphins locker room and said, “I think this one belongs to you,” his sister said.

Scott lost his memory and some mobility in his later years. He regularly stayed at the Atlanta home of his friend, Bob Hancock, and it was there that he fell so hard that he ended up dying from the resulting problems.

“The results indicate that if he didn’t have CTE, he would be fine,” McKee said. “He had no other problems. He would live the normal life of a healthy 75-year-old man.

Scott and Kiick also show the patchwork way NFL policies help players with disabilities. Scott was dismissed in February 2019 – less than two years before his death – after receiving concussion settlement money from the NFL.

Bob Stein, a Minneapolis attorney and former NFL player, represented Scott and nearly 100 other former players in an attempt to get them some of the settlement money. Most, he said, are ineligible, “regardless of severe damage” due to “very specific colony requirements”.

Kiick’s son, Austin, spent a year navigating NFL forms and dealing with NFL-approved doctors while being his struggling father’s caregiver. When the great Dolphins was hospitalized in 2016 while Austin was away visiting family, the state refused to release him except to an assisted living facility.

Kiick then fell under the NFL’s so-called “Plan 88”, which provides assistance to skilled players in need of assisted living. The plan was named for John Mackey, the former Baltimore Colts Hall of Famer who wore the No. 88 jersey and suffered from dementia.

“At that point, the NFL stepped in and paid for life support,” Austin Kiick said. “Before this happened, it was frustrating to deal with them.”

Jim Kiick received $100,000 a year from the league which mostly covered his costs at the facility, Independence Hall at Wilton Manors, until his death, his son said.

His star running back dad’s Stage-4 CTE diagnosis was “a little shocking,” Austin Kiick said. What compounded the impact was being told the deterioration “started in my early 40s,” he said.

McKee said the centre’s research found that every three years of playing football doubled a player’s risk of CTE. Anyone who plays over 14½, “at any level, is 10 times more likely to get a CTE” than someone who quit after a few years, she said.

Scott, Kiick and Buoniconti agreed before they died to donate their brains and spinal cords to the CTE Center. It has a brain bank of more than 800, said McKee, the world’s largest researcher of repetitive trauma. His research projects focus on the diagnosis of CTE in living people.

For Scott’s sister, this closes a sad and final chapter about her brother. They built the cottage behind his house expecting him to stay there as his mental issues grew more severe.

Instead, after his fall in Atlanta, his ashes were flown to Hawaii and strewn on the water – with leis topped with cans of Budweiser.

Another great Sunday? She won’t go out of her way to watch the game, she said.

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