View Full Version : Former Steeler Offers Testimony On Head Injuries

10-28-2009, 11:42 PM
Former Steeler Offers Testimony On Head Injuries

Former Pittsburgh Steelers running back Merril Hoge offered emotional testimony today on Capitol Hill as evidence of devastating and long-term effects of head injuries in pro football continues to mount.

Hoge, as well as NFL Commission Roger Goodell and Steelers neurosurgeon Joseph Maroon, testified before the House Judiciary Committee.

Last month, the NFL released a study showing that former NFL players are diagnosed with Alzheimer's and other dementia at much higher rates than the general population.

And Hoge and the Steelers have had more than their share of devastating injuries.

"After my second concussion, I was escorted into the training room where I flat lined," testified Hoge on Wednesday.

Hoge continued on to detail what happened to him in the minutes and days after suffering that second concussion.

"As they started to resuscitate me, I popped back up and they rushed me to the emergency room where I'd lay in ICU for two days," said Hoge. "And the first 24 hours, I could not recall my wife, my daughter or my brother, who were there at the time."

Hoge played for the Steelers from 1987 to 1993. He spent his final year with the Chicago Bears, but the injuries forced him to retire at the young age of 29.

"I was confined at home for weeks where I couldn't leave unless somebody went with me," Hoge said. "I had to learn how to read again, I went through depression and these major symptoms took nearly two years to recover from."

Hoge says after his second concussion, he was never examined by a neurosurgeon and was cleared to play just five days later by a family practitioner over the phone.

He says the NFL has made improvements since then, but it's not enough.

He wants a national standard that would require two things. One, that anytime a player suffers a head injury - they are to be examined by a neurological doctor. And two, that a player cannot return to play until he or she is asymptomatic for a full seven days after being cleared by a doctor.

"If we establish those standards with all football, we would have less tragic stories then we have to this point," testified Hoge.

But Hoge isn't the only former Steeler whose head injuries have proven dangerous. For others, they proved deadly.

Mike Webster died in 2002 after suffering from repeated head injuries. Also, Terry Long took his own life in 2005 after drinking anti-freeze. However, the medical examiner's office listed head injuries as a contributing factor in his death.

Goodell defended his actions to make the game safer by citing rule changes and concussion studies even giving retirees with dementia $88,000 a year.

But some members of Congress say it isn't enough.

For starters, they have asked the NFL to turn over all its medical data for an independent review.