At Least 4 Players on Alabama’s ’60s Football Teams Had CTE

The repercussions of C.T.E., which cannot be definitively diagnosed until after a person’s death but is routinely found in football players when researchers are allowed to conduct post-mortem examinations, can be jarringly conspicuous: episodes of confusion and memory loss, spasms of anger and argument and steep declines in communication and decision-making skills.

“You just see them really turn into someone totally different,” said Heike Crane, the widow of Paul Crane, who played center and linebacker for Alabama and ultimately developed C.T.E. before his death in 2020.

About 60 years ago, though, long before C.T.E. was a recognized risk, football at a place like Alabama was a waypoint to wealth, stature and envy. Even now, amid their agony, players and their families are often reluctant to wish football away from campuses or American culture. Change the sport, some say, but keep playing it.

For many of the men who played, health threats were worthy personal sacrifices back then.

“I was from kind of a small town in Tennessee,” said Steve Sloan, an Alabama starting quarterback in the 1960s who was later the athletic director there and the football coach at Duke, Mississippi, Texas Tech and Vanderbilt.

“I wanted to get a scholarship, and I wanted to get a degree, and if it took hits in the head, then it was all right,” said Sloan, who said he had not experienced the severe symptoms of C.T.E. “I’m just lucky.”

Much like Sloan, Ray Perkins came to Tuscaloosa in search of a life beyond the rural town where he was raised. Bryant, who won six national championships before his death in 1983 and whose name is now on the 100,077-seat campus stadium, was the draw.

The Brooklyn Nets Have So Much Talent but So Little Charm

I watched the Nets play in Brooklyn last week, and a Boston Celtics home game broke out. “M-V-P, M-V-P, M-V-P!” rang the chants, aimed not at one of the Nets but at Jayson Tatum, Boston’s feather-touch, do-it-all forward, as he toed the free-throw line in the fourth quarter of what became a runaway victory for […]

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Novak Djokovic Returns to the Australian Open, No Longer a Villain

MELBOURNE, Australia — It was the day before the Australian Open, and the Park Hotel in Melbourne’s Carlton neighborhood was closed with only the occasional pedestrian passing in front of the dusty, deserted entrance on a sedate Sunday. Quite a different scene than last year, when Novak Djokovic, the world’s No. 1 tennis player, was […]

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Nick Kyrgios Is Coming for Tennis

MELBOURNE, Australia — Nick Kyrgios is finally home. He is in Australia, with his people and in the place he longs for during all those homesick months living out of a suitcase on the professional tennis road. For months, he soaked up the sun and trained in Sydney. But he also squeezed in a bit […]

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