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Hall of Fame RB Thurman Thomas struggling with concussion effects

By The Sports Xchange
Hall of Fame RB Thurman Thomas struggling with concussion effects
Former running back Thurman Thomas of the Buffalo Bills. (UPI Photo/Joe Marino-Bill Cantrell) | License Photo

Former Buffalo Bills star and Hall of Fame running back Thurman Thomas admits he is struggling with the effects of concussions that he suffered during his 13-year NFL career.

Thomas, who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2007, said at a concussion summit in Niagara Falls, Ontario, that he suffers from mood swings and his condition is "getting worse."

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"Still to this day, I can't control my mood swings," Thomas said Friday at the District School Board of Niagara's international summit on concussions, via the Niagara Falls (Canada) Review. "On so many days, I have to apologize to my family for them. I thank God that I have a family that understands the things that I've been through over my 13-year (professional) career, and even after my 14 or 15 years that I've been retired. They all understand that with my mood swings, sometimes I just can't help it."

The Bills' all-time leading rusher, who turns 50 next month, has seen doctors to assess his condition.

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"One thing that I realized is that discussing the effects of concussions and the reality of the situation doesn't make me less of a man, less tough, less loyal to the National Football League, a less love for the game," Thomas said. "All it means is that I'm not an ignorant fool, and that I don't ignore factual evidence that this is happening to not only football players, but (other athletes)."

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Thomas told a story about getting lost on a familiar road a few years ago.

"I didn't know where I was, and I didn't know what I was doing," Thomas said. "I had to make the most difficult call I've ever made. I had to pull over on the highway, call my wife and explain to her the events that just happened. She said, 'You need to come back home.' I knew that there was a problem."

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Thomas said the doctor told him after an MRI that the frontal lobe of his brain was "similar to someone who has fallen off the top of a house, on to the front of his head, or going through a windshield of a car several times. He said decent ... for an NFL football player who had just played in the National Football League for 13 years. Not great, but decent."

Thomas revealed his 14-year old son has suffered concussions from playing football that have kept him out of games.

"My wife just doesn't want him to play at all," Thomas said. "I don't want to discourage parents from letting their kids play a physical sport. The technology is getting better. We're doing more studies. ...

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"When I started playing football as a little kid, the last thing on my mind was, 'will I be able to walk when I'm 50? Will I be able to keep a train of thought when I'm 45? When I'm 50, will I suffer from uncontrollable mood swings? And even worse, will someday I be so depressed that I would take my own life?'"

Thomas rushed for 12,074 yards and 65 touchdowns during his NFL career yards and was part of a Bills team that won an unmatched four consecutive AFC titles in the early 1990s.

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