Browns All-Pro tackle Joe Thomas was a guest on In Depth With Graham Bensinger, and he spoke candidly about the ways in which football may have already affected his brain.
“I definitely expect memory loss,” Thomas said. “I’m already seeing memory loss, and maybe that’s just because of my old age, or maybe it’s football. It’s hard to tell, I mean there’s no double-blind studies when it comes to people’s lives.”
Thomas, who is 32 years old, described what kinds of short-term memory loss he’s already experiencing. “You walk to the grocery store and you’re like, ‘Huh, I can’t remember what I needed to get.’ You know, just little stuff like that,” he said.
Thomas didn’t shy away from the possibility that football could be the cause of the issues he’s already faced, and was aware of the possibility that he will experience more problems in the future. He brought up symptoms that have been linked to brain damage—Alzheimer’s, mood swings, depression—and added:
Those are obviously scary and frightening things, but I think from my perspective, I can’t do anything about it. This was the profession that I have already chosen, and most of the damage has probably been done already. So what are the things that I can do to try to minimize my chances of having those negative effects down the line? And then do everything I possibly can. Then I can’t worry about it. I have to accept it.
Thomas has been in the NFL for 10 seasons, and he has not missed a single game in his career.