If you’re a millennial, Mike Adamle was likely part of your adolescence at some point. During the 1980’s he was a local sportscaster in Chicago. Then nationally he went on to be the long-running host of American Gladiators alongside Larry Csonka. That was during the classic era of the show that featured such luminaries as Nitro, Gemini, and Zap. He was also a sideline reporter for NBC and worked on multiple Summer Olympics. You may even remember Adamle from a brief stint working as an announcer and then General Manager on Monday Night Raw with WWE. But before his accomplished and lengthy media career, Adamle won the Silver Football as the Big Ten’s Player of the Year at Northwestern in 1970 and then played six seasons in the NFL. Adamle last worked with the NBC affiliate in Chicago and this week made a startling announcement that was related to his playing days. In an emotional interview, Adamle revealed that he is dealing with dementia and doctors see signs of what will likely be CTE, likely caused by the numerous concussions during his playing days. Here’s video of the interview. Here’s some of the quotes from Adamle as well about the effect it’s having on his every day life:

“The pain comes from embarrassment,” he said. “Sitting down, not being able to remember things. Like I said, everybody’s got that, don’t make a big thing out of it because everybody gets it. But sometimes I wake up in the morning, like I’ll throw up, and there’s times you get really depressed and you don’t want to see anybody and I try to fight those days.” 

Adamle can no longer work and he can’t drive. He wears a fanny pack with his I.D., house keys and phone, in case he gets lost or can’t remember. 

But he’s motivated to stay active and do exercises that can help improve his memory, or keep it from getting worse.

“The only way that I can extend my life and be around to see my daughters get married, live happily ever after with your wife, I want to be able to do that,” he said. “The only way you can do that is to stay active. I can’t jump out of an airplane anymore, I can’t rappel anymore, but there are things that I can do, I’m discovering.” 

It’s a sad story to hear and yet it’s a story that is becoming all too familiar. More and more stars of years gone by are going public with issues related to head trauma while playing professional football. While the CTE diagnosis can’t be confirmed until after death, the effects of Adamle’s football career taking effect in the here and now are startling. And these stories should encourage the NFL, doctors, experts, and everyone involved to continue to push to make the game safer.

[NBC 5 Chicago]