Gale Sayers Has Dementia, His Family Says

“Like the doctor at the Mayo Clinic said, ‘Yes, a part of this has to be on football,’” Ardythe Sayers said at their home in Wakarusa, Ind. “It wasn’t so much getting hit in the head. It’s just the shaking of the brain when they took him down with the force they play the game in.”

Ardythe Sayers and the rest of the family had made no secret of his condition, but hadn’t shared it publicly. In 2013, he asked to withdraw a lawsuit filed against the N.F.L. and a helmet maker that claimed they had failed to prevent repeated head injuries. The lawsuit contended that Sayers claimed he suffered headaches, occasional short-term memory loss and other cognitive deficits because of chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

While Ardythe Sayers considers her husband physically as healthy “as a horse” and notes he is working out with a trainer several days a week, she added, “That brain controls everything, doesn’t it?”

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