Without a doubt, the most memorable and powerful portion of today's press conference announcing the filing of the Duerson Act was when Mike Adamle took to the podium. The former Chicago Bears and Northwestern Wildcats running back, was a television broadcaster in Chicago for over three decades, until a 2016 diagnosis of CTE-induced dementia forced his retirement from television.
Adamle, through his time at WLS channel 7 (ABC) from 1983-89, WBBM channel 2 (CBS) 2001-04 and WMAQ channel 5 (1998-2001, 2004-2016) has become extremely familiar to most Chicagoans.
During today's press conference, Adamle certainly did not hold back, and gave new meaning to the phrase wearing your heart on your sleeve.
State Representative Carol Sente (D-Vernon Hills) was joined by a coalition of football stars, medical experts and advocates at the Thompson Center this morning to unveil the Dave Duerson Act to Prevent CTE that would end organized tackle football for youth under age 12. The introduction of this legislation coincided with both the start of the Illinois General Assembly's 2018 legislative session, and the run-up to Super Bowl LII.
Dave Duerson was the starting strong safety for the iconic 1985 Super Bowl XX winning Chicago Bears who took his own life at age 50, and was found to have Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) which has been linked to head impacts sustained playing football.
Adamle's dad was an All-Pro linebacker with the Cleveland Browns from 1950-56, playing in a time before legendary coach Paul Brown invented the modern helmet and face mask. The father of Mike Adamle wouldn't let his son play football until the ninth grade.
"I was the starting guard for Kent Roosevelt high school and I weighed a whopping 125 pounds," the now 68-year-old Adamle said.
And we had helmets you could spin around *motions with his hands* like this, we called them brain buckets."
As he continued talking a microphone fell off the podium, prompting him to joke “see- as I got older and older this is the kind of shit that happens, when you don't have, what’s it called? The functioning with your hands?"
A woman in the room then told him the specific medical term "...the fine motor skills, the fine motor skills are gone, but I think Otis would says the same."
Duerson's teammate on the '85 Bears, the legendary Otis Wilson, was on hand, and he revealed that he will be donating his brain to CTE research. Go here for more on that.
CTE is incurable and untreatable, and Mike Adamle is doing everything he can to try and make the best out of a tragic situation.
“It’s going to eventually kill me," he added.
"I don’t know when but I found out there are some things you can do to abate the decline that happens in all of us, and that’s what I’m trying to do. So if it takes half of my brain gets found in some place like Boston (at a university research clinic) I'm all for that.
"So I don’t know, but let's pray that something gets done."
For the language of House Bill 4341, go to this link.
"We all want kids to have fun playing football and to learn to play the game the right way early on," Sente. "But the overwhelming data and powerful stories of our supporters here today show the risks of playing tackle football before turning 12 just aren't worth it."
Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net and TheBank.News, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, a former writer for the Washington Times, NBC Chicago.com and Chicago Tribune.com, currently contributes regularly to WGN CLTV and the Tribune corporation blogging community Chicago Now.
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