Conrad Dobler played 10 seasons in the National Football League, starting a total of 125 games from the guard position. His career, spanning most of the 70’s and the early 80’s, represented a time when ignorance was bliss regarding the risks players were taking out on the field.
Dobler, 65, is now feeling the long-term effects of going up against other large men in the trenches during that decade he suited up for the then St. Louis Cardinals, New Orleans Saints and Buffalo Bills.
“I have six kids; I don’t even know their names,” Dobler told Josh Peter of USA Today earlier this month. “It kind of pisses me off because I prided myself on having such a wonderful memory.”
It’s the harsh reality that has since become prevalent around the football world. Risks players took on the field while not knowing a great deal about the potential of long-term brain trauma.
Even 35 years following his retirement from the NFL, Dobler is seemingly facing a day-to-day grind to overcome the impact of countless head-to-head hits while playing a position that requires constant contact.
Still able to achieve some level of humor regarding his condition, the three-time Pro Bowler continued:
“I really don’t give a (hoot) about anything other than my score on the golf course. That’s the only time (memory loss) really works, is if I can’t remember how many strokes I have when I get to the hole. It’s always a lot less than I actually have for my score.”
Prior to a recent breakthrough in the medical field, an individual could only be tested for Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) postmortem.
In this, Dobler has yet to be tested for the affliction— an affliction that has taken center stage in recent years around the football world.
He’s just the most recent former NFL player to come out and talk about the overwhelming impact the game has had on him since retirement.
Former NFL player Kevin Turner, a long-time advocate of CTE research, passed away last week at the age of 46 from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). His work had included finding a link between brain trauma and the degenerative disease that took his life.
Among the players that have spoken out a lot regarding the long-term impact of repeated hits to the head, Hall of Fame running back Tony Dorsett had some sobering comments regarding his day-to-day post-football life after being diagnosed with CTE.
These are just a few of the examples of former players dealing with what has to be considered one of the most serious issues surrounding the game of football in recent history.
Dobler’s comments come on the heels of the NFL officially acknowledging a link between football and brain disease (via ESPN.com).
While Dobler is just the most recent case study surrounding brain trauma, the position he played could lead us to the conclusion that these issues are more widespread among offensive linemen than other positions. Though, that’s more conjecture than anything else.