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A Depressing Story About Mel Renfro

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On the front page of this morning's New York Times is a piece about how "clinical depression among retired National Football League players is strongly correlated with the number of concussions they sustained." The story's based on a study conducted by the University of North Carolina’s Center for the Study of Retired Athletes, which has determined over the years that many former pro ballers spend their retirement suffering "dementia, severe arthritis and nutritional/dietary problems that change their lives forever."

To that list they can now add depression -- the heartbreak of which is revealed in another Times story today about former Dallas Cowboy and Hall of Famer Mel Renfro, who, for years, had been suffering from undiagnosed depression as a result of his having received nine concussions -- "including one," writes The Times' Alan Schwarz, "in which he regained consciousness at the end of the Cowboys’ bench with no idea of who or where he was." Renfro suffers from a "foggy" and "heavy" head; he has short-term memory loss and feels fatigued and sad, even when fresh out of bed. Reports The Times:

Working for a mortgage company in Dallas, where as a former Super Bowl champion he remains well-known and popular, Renfro said his meet-and-greet duties have grown only more difficult and frustrating: “I’ll forget people’s names 10 seconds later,” he said. “It feels awful. I’m embarrassed.”

You know who should be embarrassed? Every head coach who shoved a player back on the field by telling him, "Screw the team doctors." And every team owner, past or present, who looked the other way. --Robert Wilonsky

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