WASHINGTON – Former NFL lineman Brian Holloway says the effects from numerous concussions he suffered in his eight-year playing career are starting to show in the form of slurred speech and forgetfulness.
“If there’s a stage level of dementia, there’s people that would say I have indicators of some level of that,” says Holloway.
He was an offensive tackle for the New England Patriots and Los Angeles Raiders from 1981 to 1988. Holloway, 54, stands 6-feet-‘7-inches tall and weighed between 280 to 290 pounds during his playing days.
He says he started paying more attention to his own well-being after watching the health of Hall-of-Fame player John Mackey deteriorate during the three years they toured together on speaking engagements.
“I saw him go from a dynamic, inspirational, relevant, clear, lucid, powerful, poignant, focused speaker to not even know who he was,” Holloway says.
In 2011, Mackey died at the age of 69 from dementia. He was considered one of the greatest tight ends in NFL history, and was the first president of the NFL Players Association.
Earlier this month, the league announced the “Head Health Initiative” to deal with concussions. The partnership with GE, and sports apparel maker Under Armor, commissions a four-year, $60 million study for developing new strategies to diagnose and treat traumatic brain injuries players may suffer.
“The launch of the innovation challenges puts us on an accelerated path to progress with experienced scientists, academics and entrepreneurs dedicated to developing game-changing technologies that will benefit athletes, the military and all members of society,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goddell sa id in a statement.
It’s a move Holloway approves of.
“I think now for the first time we’re able to find the ballplayers who disappeared, or are embarrassed, or are disabled and don’t want to talk about it,” he says.
Holloway maintains a very active lifestyle. The father of five sons and three daughters travels the world as a motivational speaker. He recently launched a women-friendly football website Donttellhim.com. And, is currently working on a children’s book.
He says the strategies he’s developed help him deal with his physical limitations.
“How can I offer myself the support, the strength, the ideas and resources to handle what may be going on in my body,” he says.