Former Browns WR Reggie Rucker shares his battle with CTE

Reggie Rucker shares his battle with CTE after years in NFL

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - The movie "Concussion" starring Will Smith hits theaters on Christmas Day.

It deals with a degenerative brain disease found in athletes called CTE, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

A familiar face is dealing with this terrible disease.

Former Cleveland Browns wide receiver Reggie Rucker says he endured 17 years of repeated head trauma, including three concussions where he lost consciousness.

He's fresh off a three-day trip to the National Institute of Health in Washington, D.C. where he was the first former NFL player to be enrolled in their traumatic brain injury study.

He's hoping between the study and Smith's new movie, that people will finally start to listen.

"As I was driving, some kind of disorientation came over me, and it came from my head. It scared the heck out of me. I said, 'I don't think that's normal,'" recalls Rucker.

Like many former NFL players, Rucker says he's been experiencing symptoms of CTE for 20 years.

"All of the things that happen to us, the medications you have to take, you can't sleep, you got anger issues, you've got memory issues. You have a history of all of these people dying before they should die," Rucker says.

His condition has been getting worse and it scares him.

Now he's glad the movie "Concussion" is bringing the conversation to the forefront.

"Perhaps some people will start listening now about watching what you do with your kids, watching what kind of football they play, watching to see if it's heads up football. Because they shouldn't be having helmet to helmet contact before they're 14 years of age," Rucker says.

He says he looks at the extreme caution taken with players like Browns defensive back Joe Haden after his concussion, and can't help but feel resentful.

"Good for him, because you're really protecting his life. But how do you think that makes me feel? They sent me right back out there. And then you're going to say you didn't know about this or you're not responsible for this?"

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