Tony Dorsett (credit:  Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

Tony Dorsett (credit: Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Former Dallas Cowboy Tony Dorsett has shown signs of having chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a brain disease normally found after a victim dies. It’s a progressive degenerative disease, which usually happens to people with a history of multiple concussions and other forms of head injury. He underwent brain scans and clinical evaluations during the past three months at UCLA to determine what was causing his dementia, suicidal thoughts and depression. All three conditions are side effects of CTE.

“My memory, is getting worse and worse as the days go by, my short-temper… gets worse,” the Pro Football Hall of Famer told CBS 11 News.

Dorsett is one of a handful of the first confirmed living cases of the brain disease caused by the physical blows that come with playing football. It’s a neurological disease that has shown up in the autopsies of boxers.

“Years ago it was called punch-drunk syndrome among boxers,” according to Dr. Munro Cullum with UT Southwestern’s Neuropsychology Department.

Dr. Cullum studies the brain health of former NFL players, including athletes with a history of concussions. He said the research remains unclear about the crippling disease.

“If you have concussions, you may be at greater risk of problems later in life, but we don’t know in individual cases who’s at risk, or has this pathology building up in the brain,” said Dr. Cullum.

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