CTE in the NFL: The misfortune of Fred McNeill

( CNN) The night before died in November, he was watching “Monday Night .” The 63 -year-old former Viking linebacker and UCLA grad had his gold and blue slippers tucked under his bed. “He loved video games, ” said his youngest son, Gavin. “He was proud of what he did.”

Yet the very same game had robbed so much from him.

McNeill had transitioned from playing 12 years of professional football into family life. He had a wife, Tia, and two young sons, Fred Jr. and Gavin. After playing in two Super Bowls, he spent his last NFL season examining statute and eventually became a partner with a firm in Minneapolis.

McNeill was easygoing and kind. His older son, Fred Jr ., remembers him as “our first best friend. He was Superman.” Gavin said he coached them in all things: football, baseball, basketball, life.

As his wife told, “Fred did everything. He played ball, went to statute school, prepared for life after football. We had the children. It was a good life, and then it changed.”

Small changes at home and work

At first the changes were small. McNeill began forgetting to pick up the children from school. Then he began having difficulty concentrate and completing undertakings. At periods he would jump up out of bed in the middle of the night because of nightmares.

He also began complaining of headaches. “I’d watch him wince, and I’d run, ‘What’s going on? ‘ ” Tia McNeill told. “He just said, ‘Oh nothing. Just in my head. Perhaps I need to drink.’ ” He was always saying, “I need to drink some more water.”

Similar issues were happening at work. One of his statute partners, Barry Reed, told the Minneapolis Star Tribune, “It became more and more difficult for him to function as a lawyer.” Fred McNeill eventually lost his partnership at the firm.

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