Former NFL defensive tackle Warren Sapp will donate his brain to concussion research.
The Hall of Famer made the announcement in a video posted on The Players’ Tribune’s YouTube channel, explaining her made the decision after receiving an email from former NFL running back Fred Willis.
“We’re playing in a macho league and we’re talking about Hall of Famers now who are immortalized forever, made busts and everything. Legends of the game,” Sapp, 44, says in the video. “There’s no way any of us really want to admit that we can’t remember how to get home or a grocery list the wife has given us or how to go pick up our kids from school.
“You try to find a reason that it’s not that ‘It’s my brain!’ that ‘I’m not deteriorating right before my own eyes.’ ”
Sapp, who recalls aggressive “neanderthal” tackles and “head slaps” during his time in the league, hopes his pledge to donate his brain to research can help change the way football is played.
“I’ve also started to feel the effects of the hits that I took in my career,” Sapp, a seven-time Pro Bowl selection, says in the video. “My memory ain’t what it used to be. And yeah, it’s scary to think that my brain could be deteriorating, and that maybe things like forgetting a grocery list, or how to get to a friend’s house I’ve been to a thousand times are just the tip of the iceberg. So when it comes to concussions, CTE and how we can make our game safer for future generations, I wanted to put my two cents in — to help leave the game better off than it was when I started playing.”
Sapp, who retired in 2008, admits to using an app on his phone to set reminders for himself.
“It’s the most frightening feeling, but it’s also a very weakening feeling because you feel like a child,” he says. “Like I need help, I need somebody to help me find something that I could’ve found with my eyes closed in the dead of night half asleep.”
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“I can’t remember anymore like I used to,” he admitted.
The 2013 Hall of Fame inductee has chosen to donate his brain to the Concussion Legacy Foundation.
“Because you can’t stand on the sidelines if you want to affect something,” he says. “You gotta make a move. You have to do something.”