Ex-NFL Player and Actor Had Been Suffering from Dementia as a Result of Repeated Head Injuries during Pro-Football Career
TRENTON – Senator Richard J. Codey, D-Essex and Morris, the sponsor of a number of bills designed to protect young athletes from the negative health consequences of repeated head trauma and concussions, issued the following statement today on the passing of Alex Karras, a former defensive lineman for the Detroit Lions and actor who had in recent years been suffering from dementia resulting from head injuries he had sustained during his professional football career:
“Alex Karras’ tale is a cautionary one to young athletes about the dangers of repeated head injuries. Mr. Karras and others played in the NFL during a time when rules governing head injuries were limited at best, if they were enforced and all. However, we have also seen instances in which players who did play under such rules died due to repeated brain trauma.
“In New Jersey, we’ve passed a series of laws designed to protect student athletes from concussions. School districts are required to written policies and safety guidelines to prevent and treat sports-related concussions. Players who are suspected of having a concussion are benched until they can produce a doctor’s note clearing them to return to practice and competition. And we’ve done a better job at reaching out to student athletes and their families regarding the warning signs of concussions and the dangers of repeated head injuries. But that doesn’t mean that no student will ever face the challenges Alex Karras did at the end of his life.
“To New Jersey’s student athletes, if you believe you’re suffering from a concussion, please, speak up. Let your coach know; let your parents know. The price is too high to ignore the dangers of repeated head trauma.
“And to the friends and family of Alex Karras, my thoughts and prayers are with you in this difficult time.”