Craig Melvin   |  January 19, 2014

Fmr. NFL player: You don't know where to turn

Former Pro Wrestler and President of the Sports Legacy Institute Chris Nowinksi and Former NFL Superbowl Winning Quarterback Jim Mcmahon talk with Milissa Rehberger on the recent NFL head injury lawsuit.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> as the nfl conference championships get under way, there's a cloud over the league. last week a judge rejected a $765 million settlement between the nfl and more than 4,500 retired players. they sued the league accusing them of hiding the dangers of concussi concussions. the settlement was rejected out of concern it won't provide money for the payouts, medical tests and treatment. joining me now is quarterback jim mcmann and ed nowistski. jim , i went to start with you. in an interview, president obama weighed in on the state of concussions in the nfl saying this. at this point, there's little bit of a caveat emptor . they know what they're doing, buying into. it is no longer a secret. it's sort of a feeling i have about smokers, you know? what is your reaction to the president equating nfl players to smokers when it comes to understanding the risks?

>> well, i don't understand that equation. but all i know is that i agree with the judge this time around. i think she was right. that wasn't enough money and hopefully now it gets resolved shortly so the guys suffering really bad can get the help that they need.

>> chris , let's talk about the class-action lawsuit. the judge said it didn't pay enough. can a dollar amount be placed on what the retired players are really experiencing?

>> well, at this point, it's just an estimate because we can't yet diagnose chronic tragic enreceive lop think while people are alive. we don't know how many develop it going forward and it is really hard to wrap your arms around it. hopefully that's enough bun the reality is that's enough money, the payouts will be small for the people having this and in our group, 52 of first 54 players had cte.

>> jim , you are part of that lawsuit. can you tell us what kind of medical issues you and your teammates have experienced?

>> well, i was going through tremendous pains in my head, loss of memory. and just an overall, you know, i just didn't want to do anything. i can see now why some of my former teammates committed suicide. i was at the brink n.i.c.e. the pain was so bad that you don't know where to turn.

>> how many concussions did you have while playing?

>> i think there was three to five of them that were documented. i don't really know the exact number.

>> well, chris , you've helped build a brain bank as it's called as former athletes and players donate their brains for research about cte. what have you discovered so far?

>> well, this disease was basically ignored by the medical community. since it was first named punch drunk in 1928 and the brain bank with 190 brains of former athletes and diagnosed more cases of this disease than the rest of the world combined and started a research infrastructure to maybe some day have a treatment for this. you know, for example, with the brain bank, the brain tissue is seated research studies at 20 universities around the world trying to understand the basics about this. how's it start and progress and how might we be able to treat it going taurd? do you find more athletes and families participate now?

>> it is. families are more willing. partially because people like jim talk about this. he very early on pledged his brain to the brain bank and now we have over a thousand athlete that is pledged that. it's much easier to do the research and funding for it and we are in a much better place than five years ago still debating whether or not this disease was real.

>> jim , in that same interview with "the new yorker" president obama said that if he had a son he would not let him play pro football and a sentiment brett favre shared. knowing what you know now, would you let your sons play?

>> knowing what i know now, yes. i think the game is getting safer. i think all sports will be getting safer with the treatment that i have received the last couple of years, i think these doctors are on the breakthrough of something tremendous and hopefully, you know, very soon that all of this stuff will get out into the mainstream.

>> can you tell us what kind of treatment you have received?

>> what they found causing my probables is my spinal fluid was backing up into my brain and how they found that, they went through an mri and a weight bearing mri and then they showed that the spinal fluid was not getting out because c-1 and 2 were choking off the spinal fluid and backing up into my brain. and they were able to alleviate that by -- i can't remember the name of the procedure. i was just talking about it in connecticut two nights ago but, see. now you know i do have some brain issues. it get it is fluid flowing on the proper path again and alleviated a lot of my pain.

>> chris , what do you think is next for the nfl lawsuit?

>> well, you know, from what i understand the nfl -- the lawyers will have to show the work of how they came up with the dollar figure and actually going to be able to cover former nfl players for 65 years and then i guess up to the judge to decide whether or not that is enough.

>> well, thanks to both of you. jim , i'm sorry you went through so much pain and glad to hear you're feeling better and wish both of you very good luck going ahead with this.

>> thank you.

>> thank you.

>> thank you both for joining us. we'll be right back.