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Local Football Families React to NFL Brain Disease Diagnosis

Tony Dorsett and three other former NFL players have been diagnosed with CTE. But are the health concerns enough to stop parents from allowing their kids to play?

After decades of a successful career, Hall of Fame Football Player Tony Dorsett talks about being diagnosed with Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy.

"It’s getting worse and worse as the days go by. My short temperedness, I’m really short tempered it gets worse," explained Dorsett.

Doctors discovered a buildup of an abnormal protein in Dorsett’s brain that indicates CTE and constricts brain cells in areas that control memory and emotions. A condition scientists believe is brought on by repeated head trauma.

Stateline football parents react to the news.

"Coming from a football family I’m not going to stop them from playing," said Jane Koehler.

Rockford Ravens Coach Mark West says tackling rules have become stricter since players like Dorsett played.

"You look at Tony Dorsett and Junior Seau what helmets some of these players wore in the past; they're nothing like what we make today.  Not only that, the precautionary steps that we're taking as far as the way we tackle and hit," explained Rockford Ravens Coach Mark West.

Parent Bill Brigham says CTE does concern him and that he keeps a watchful eye on what coaches are teaching his kids.

"If they practice what the coaches teach them. The fundamentals, play the game right, not use their head as a weapon," said Brigham. 

Mom Jane Koehler has three boys who have played from high school through college and suffered concussions. Precautions like safer helmets keep her at ease. She mentions that doesn't mean parents, coaches and refs need to stop making safety their number one priority.

"We just have to really work hard at looking at all angles from when they're little on up to college level," said Koehler.

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