Meet The Doctors Trying To Solve NFL’s CTE Issue

Source: | Re-Post Duerson Fund 11/7/2017 – 

The painting of the “The Catch” hangs behind the desk of Dr. Ann McKee in her Boston University School of Medicine office, and Dallas Cowboys defender Everson Walls still watches helplessly while a leaping Dwight Clark snags Joe Montana’s spiral in the end zone at Candlestick Park.

But in this rendering of that signature moment of the 1981 NFC Championship Game, when Clark’s touchdown haul propelled the 49ers to the Super Bowl while Walls and the Cowboys went home, there is deeper meaning to certain elements of the painting: the freckled gray sky hovering over the stadium is actually the artist’s symbol for healthy brain tissue, while the burnt orange and brown-colored bands within Candlestick — what appear to be cheering fans — are representative of brain tissue ravaged by the degenerative disease, chronic traumatic encephalopathy, better known as CTE.

The work of art is a poignant metaphor for the life’s work of McKee and the crusade she continues to champion along with her BU School of Medicine colleagues — untangling the complex and many-layered conundrum of CTE and other neurodegenerative diseases and their link to football.

Clark, the 49ers hero in that famous play, is 60 now and battling amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. During a recent appearance at Levi’s Stadium (the 49ers’ current home), Montana introduced Clark to the audience. When Clark addressed the crowd, his speech was halted and his body already appears to be weakened by the disease.

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