Former NFL player and NBC 5 sports anchor Mike Adamle has been an outspoken “survivor" since being diagnosed with signs of CTE, a debilitating brain disease linked to concussions and repeated blows to the head.
“Everybody is courageous if they dig deep enough,” he told Megyn Kelly on her show Thursday. “You know what I am? I’m a survivor.”
Adamle, appearing on the show with his wife Kim, spoke emotionally and candidly about his journey post-football, a heartbreaking tale that includes seizures, memory loss and even the brief loss of his marriage.
It began when Adamle was on NBC 5 reporting on the score of a 1999 Bulls game against the Portland Trailblazers.
“I was doing the broadcast, I said, 'Tonight the Chicago Bulls beat the Portland Trailblazers 96-95, Michael Jordan had 26 points.' And when I was saying that it was like I felt this tidal wave coming over me,” he said. “Half of me was talking about sports and the other half was just this crazy stuff that was going on. The next thing I knew I was back in my office and I took my sport coat off and I was just dripping wet.”
Adamle was initially diagnosed with epilepsy and, later, with “signs of CTE."
Early on, Adamle experienced unexplainable rage and aggression, now considered to be symptoms of his diagnosis. His marriage dissolved and he and his wife divorced for about five years.
They later remarried and are now fighting the disease together.
It’s a tale that has resonated with many athletes and non-athletes who believe they may be suffering from the same.
So much so, Adamle announced on “Megyn Kelly Today” that he and his wife are launching a new foundation dedicated to being a support network for suspected chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) victims.
As part of a partnership with the non-profit Concussion Legacy Foundation, the Adamles will launch ‘The Mike Adamle Project: Rise Above.”
“Mike had so many people reach out, not just athletes or fans, but just everyday people reaching out and telling the same story – ‘I think I have this, I don’t know what to do,’” Kim Adamle said. “So our mission now is to reach out and share what we have found out, share our journey to help everyone out there.”
So far, the only way to definitively diagnose CTE is by looking at the brain after death.
CTE is caused by repeated blows to the head, and has been found in many dead NFL players' brains, including former New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez, who killed himself in April before a murder conviction against him was cleared.
In Illinois, Adamle supports a proposed law that would ban tackle football for kids under the age of 12.
Called the Dave Duerson Act, the new legislation is "aimed at reducing head injuries in football."
The act is named after the former Bears player who took his own life in 2011 and was later found to have suffered from CTE.
While proponents of the bill say the dangers outweigh the risks, opponents argue it is “over-reaching.”
“There’s something intrinsically wrong with a sport, at least it is right now, where you lose your marbles somewhere down the line,” Adamle said.