SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — San Francisco 49ers legend Dwight Clark says he’s been diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. He says he can no longer run or jump, and he suspects hits he took during his NFL career caused him to get the disease.
Clark’s 49ers teammate from 1981 George Visger has been battling brain trauma for decades.
“When it starts hitting some of the big name players — and God bless em all, I don’t wish this on anybody — things will start to change,” Visger said.
Clark became a legend with “The Catch” in 1981. Each earned Superbowl rings and each is now paying a steep price.
“It has knocked the hell out of my life ever since then,” Visger said.
Now both share a diagnosis of different types of brain disease linked to football. Visger has hydrocephalus (water on the brain). Clark announced he has ALS.
Visger says he’s not surprised by Clark’s announcement.
“No,” Visger said. “I mean, it broke my heart to hear, but I would bet if they tested that whole team there’s probably a couple other guys that have it.”
Visger’s short NFL career was lost in obscurity. His last season was 1981. He suffering a brain hemorrhage. He’s receiving treatment now at Center for Neuro Skills in Emeryville for memory loss, balance problems, and anger management.
He’s made his name leading a public battle against the NFL over concussions and head trauma, and fighting for medical coverage for former NFL players. Now he’s prepared to go to battle for the star teammate he once suited up with and hasn’t seen in three decades.
“Just ask a lot of questions,” Visger said. “Don’t take no for an answer.”
Visger says he wants to give Clark a list of coping mechanisms he says has helped him over the years.