Throughout his playing career with the Green Bay Packers, Brett Favre was celebrated for his legendary toughness, appearing in 321 consecutive games between 1992 and 2010. Favre’s rugged, gunslinger tendencies made him one of the sport’s most exciting players for the better part of two decades, though his physical, at times reckless style (often branded as “backyard football”) may have taken years off his life. The Hall-of-Fame quarterback now struggles with memory loss, which Favre fears may be an early precursor to CTE, a neurodegenerative condition linked to repeated head trauma.
“If you had asked me 10 years ago how many concussions I’ve had, I would have said three. I thought concussions were when you get knocked out or you black out for a period of time and don’t know where you are,” Favre told radio personality Bubba the Love Sponge earlier this week. “What we now know is concussions happen all the time. You get tackled and your head hits the turf. You see flashes of light or ringing in your ears, but you're able to play.”
Since retiring in 2010, Favre has been an outspoken advocate for player safety, opining that kids shouldn’t play tackle football until they reach high school. Favre attributes his recent memory loss, among other cognitive difficulties, to years of undiagnosed concussions.
"[I've suffered] thousands," Favre estimated. "That's what's kind of frightening about the concussion thing. It's the ones that seem minor that do the damage because you're able to play and keep going.”
In observing the prevalence of CTE (which can only be diagnosed post-mortem) in former players including late Broncos receiver Demaryius Thomas, the NFL has taken significant measures to combat brain injuries in recent years, changing how games are officiated while experimenting with protective “Guardian Caps” at training camp this summer.