Chris Dronett watched as her upbeat husband degenerated into paranoia, rage and eventually suicide after 10 years of pounding that he took as a member of the Denver Broncos and Atlanta Falcons.
She told CNN her husband suffered brain damage that led to his untimely death in 2009, and wanted to warn current players about the potential consequences of those jarring head-first hits the league is cracking down on.
"I know a lot of the players are against that, but they're young and they haven't seen what I've seen," Chris Dronett said.
CNN said Friday post-mortem tests on Dronett's brain revealed evidence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a buildup of an abnormal protein usually associated with repeated head trauma.
Chris Dronett said if younger players knew the toll repeated blows to the head could take, they would think twice about the criticisms of the new rules.
"I would tell them what I went through, what Shane went through and what other people I know have gone through and then let them make that decision," she said. "Because I feel like they're making their statements without being educated."