Cookie Gilchrist's son deals with his own brain injury
By STEVEN WINE
Jul. 29, 2017
MIAMI (AP) — For Cookie Gilchrist, brain damage accumulated during a football career that took him directly from high school to the NFL in the 1960s.
For his son Scott, the damage happened all at once when he fell 40 feet from scaffolding at his house under renovation in Toronto.
"I had a bad accident: bleeding of the brain and traumatic brain injury," says Scott, 56. "I have a better understanding of the last bunch of years with my dad and why he got frustrated and couldn't let things go."
Cookie Gilchrist, a fullback for the Bills, Broncos and Dolphins, began showing symptoms of brain damage in the early 1970s, his son says. Cookie died in 2011 at the age of 75, and was among 202 former football players whose brains were examined in a study finding evidence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy in nearly all of them.
"He was in the last stage of CTE," Scott says.
Scott's accident occurred in November 2013. He remains on disability from his job with the Canadian Pacific Railway, and says seizures cost him his driver's license.
Scott remembers his father recording 10,000 hours of routine conversations with family and friends. Scott considered the behavior eccentric "until I got my brain injury. ... My brother and I both thought the old man was just crazy. Now I have a way better understanding of why he couldn't give up on certain things."
Scott says he played football in high school and is glad he did. He initially told his 15-year-old son he couldn't play, but relented.
"It's something parents should be discussing with their kids: 'You're not going to feel it now, but you'll feel it later," he says. "Would you like to try golf?'"
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