Larry Johnson hasn’t played in the NFL since 2011, and played his last game for Penn State in 2002. He’s watched as other former NFL players have succumbed to CTE as a result of repeated hits to the head playing football, and believes he has the same problems they did.
He detailed his post-football life to The Washington Post’s Kent Babb in a wrenching profile.
The 2002 Heisman Trophy finalist says says his daughter is the one thing that keeps him sane when when his mood swings and “demons” hit.
“She’s, like, a good distraction I have,” he told Babb. “She sees something in me that most people will never see.”
The story details Johnson’s journey from Oxon Hill, Md., to Penn State and to the NFL. He mentions suffering what he believes was his first concussion at age 23, and his behavior after that. Johnson discusses his problems with CTE-like symptoms, including punching a hole in the wall of his home. CTE has not been diagnosed in a living person yet — it’s only been diagnosed posthumously.
“The ex-running back says his decision to publicly describe his darkest thoughts is meant not as a way to excuse his past,” Babb writes,”but rather a way to begin a conversation with other former players who Johnson suspects are experiencing many of the same symptoms.”
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