Joe Thomas appeared on In Depth with Graham Bensinger this week. Thomas revealed that he is already suffering short term memory loss, but he doesn’t necessarily want to blame it on football because it might just be a sign of old age. (Thomas is 32 years old.)
Thomas appears to have a generally positive attitude while talking about all the crippled and diseased players who came before him. Not to mention what a lifetime of football might mean for his future. He is resigned to his post-football fate, not that you can necessarily blame it on football.
“I mean, there’s no double-blind studies when it comes to people’s life. It’s just a part, I think, of sometimes getting older. And it’s hard to tell it’s because of football or because you’re 32 and you’re not 21 anymore and you have a lot of stuff going in your life.”
Thomas was drafted by the Browns with the 3rd pick in the 2007 NFL Draft. That will be 10 years ago tomorrow. Since then he’s started all 160 games the Browns have played. That is a lot of punishment. Stories about short-term memory loss and forgetting why he’s at the grocery store don’t seem to concern him because maybe medicine can save him.
You look at guys with significant Alzheimer’s and dementia and the mood swings and the suicides that unfortunately NFL players have been faced with. And depression. Lou Gehrig’s disease. These are all things that have kind of been linked to the brain damage from football.
And those are obviously scary and frightening things, but I think from my perspective, I can’t do anything about it. This was the profession that I have already chosen, and most of the damage has probably been done already and so what are the things that I can do to try to minimize my chances of having those negative effects down the line, and then do everything I possibly can. And then I can’t worry about it.
I just have to accept it, but I do hope that medicine continues to improve and, in 10 years maybe, they’ll be able to fix my body better than they did for the poor guys that are crippled up from playing in the NFL in the ’60s and the ’70s.
This is sad, but it’s also what Thomas signed up for in exchange for tens of millions of dollars over the last decade. Thomas is alright with it now, but you have wonder how his wife and children will feel about it down the road.