Known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy, CTE has been a hot topic in recent years as more and more former NFL players have been diagnosed. The Will Smith film "Concussion" has amplified the issue.
Dukes has a long-time friend, anesthesiologist Jarrod Huey who is involved with Atlanta-based DripFusion Institute. In collaboration with several organizations including Florida State University College of Medicine, the organization is working on a prospective clinical study to assess, diagnose, and treat the late effects of intracranial injury using former NFL players.
He spearheaded a press conference on Tuesday at the Georgia State Capitol to talk about the problem.
Dukes, 51, played in the NFL for ten years. He said he himself has not exhibited any overt symptoms of CTE and is still of sound mental health but senses some differences in his brain that he didn't notice a few years ago. "I can't describe it," he said. "But I know there are differences."
He said he had a handful of concussions in his football life but said he got hit hundreds of times. "It's the cumulative effect," he said.
And Dukes knows plenty of friends who are in far worse shape than he is. A handful have already begun treatment. He wants more to join and that's why he's spreading the word.
Huey was telling Dukes a few months ago about some drugs to treat chronic depression for people who had car accidents. Dukes tied this type of head trauma with former NFL players as well. That's how the study got going using some drugs common for electroshock treatment but at smaller doses.
He isn't as pessimistic as some about whether CTE will scare off so many youngsters (and parents) from the sport. "The NFL is clearly trying to make the game safer," he said.
And he has no regrets making football a career. He said any player knows there are risks when 300-pound bodies are constantly slamming into each other. He was aware that he could end up paralyzed. "We always knew that," he said. "If you were willing to do it if you knew you could end up paralyzed as a running back or wide receiver, now you're saying, this is just something else to consider."
He continues to work with Sirius XM and the NFL Network.
But after his six-month non-compete clause wraps in March, he seems confident he'll find other local radio work. He could potentially go back to the Fan (680, 93.7), where Dukes worked for many years in the 2000s. The station doesn't appear to have any openings right now but you never know by the time March rolls around.
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