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After I initially took the hit, I tried to shake it off and just was getting hit and dazed a little bit. But then physically I could not see. After that, we just pushed through it and tried to finish the drive. Then when everything was done, it all kind of hit me.
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The debate over the impact of repeated head trauma on the lives of football players can no longer really be called a debate. It is a widely accepted fact that head trauma can lead to chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative brain disease that can cause depression and dementia and has in many cases led to suicide. It is a fact that more than 20 former pro football players have been found—at their autopsies—to have had CTE.
And it is a fact that football is by definition a game in which large, athletic men crash into one another at high speeds. Short of scoring a touchdown or going out of bounds, it's the only way a play can end.
The suicide of former University of Pennsylvania football captain Owen Thomas in April and the death of an 11-year old football player in Wisconsin earlier this month have raised two other theories about CTE. And if they're proven true, they could have a chilling effect on football in America. First, people can develop CTE without ever sustaining a diagnosable concussion. Thomas never experienced any concussion-like systems, leading experts to believe that his CTE came from repeated "routine" blows to the head, the same kind of Hard Knocks beloved by football fans across the country.