Former NFL player lives out of yellow notebooks due to memory issues

RAW: 'Nobody gets out of this game unscathed,' says former NFL player with memory loss

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Former NFL player George Visger was not surprised to hear about the memory loss Joe Thomas said he's experiencing.

"It's hard to tell if it's because of football or because you're 32 and you're not 21 anymore and you have a lot of stuff going on in your life," said offensive lineman, Joe Thomas in an "In Depth with Graham Bensinger" interview.

Thomas said the memory issues are something he accepts because that's the profession he's chosen.

"I think from my perspective I can't do anything about it. This is the profession that I have already chosen and most of the damage has probably been done already so what are the things that I can do to minimize my chances of having those negative effects down the line," said Thomas.

"I wish I'd never played"

Visger agrees that maybe ten years ago he felt the same way.

"People asked me all the time would I do it over again? I said, "Hell yeah," said Visger.

But Visger said he's lost his business and his home due to memory issues and relationships with his family have been impacted. His attitude has since changed.

"I wish I'd never played," said Visger.

Visger spent 2 years in the NFL. He was drafted in the 6th round in 1980 by the New York Jets and spent his playing time as defensive end for the San Francisco 49ers. He suffered multiple concussions. He's undergone nine brain surgeries.

Visger's spends his life out of hundreds of yellow notebooks

"They fit in my back pocket. I have hundreds and hundreds of them (yellow notebooks) literally in plastic containers," said Visger. "I'm good on stories about high school, college and things like that but to ask me what I did yesterday morning or the day before I'd have to look through my notes."

His memory requires him to write down everything.

"You will never play the game that I loved"

Visger has a 16-year-old son, who he doesn't want anywhere near the gridiron.

"He was chomping at the bit to play," said Visger. "I said, 'Look at what it's done to us.'"

The Super Bowl champion said he had major anger issues and poor judgement. His kids didn't know what father they were going to get from time to time.

Visger's son plays volleyball and basketball instead.

"Nobody gets out of this game unscathed"

Visger has spent the last 36 years of his life bringing awareness to brain injuries through his Game Plan.

Several former NFL players have been diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE. The diagnosis only comes after death. However, some players have complained of CTE symptoms including memory loss.

"Nobody gets out of this game unscathed. There's a price to pay," said Visger.

The interview with Joe Thomas on "In Depth with Graham Bensinger" airs Saturday, April 29 from 11:35 p.m. to 12:05 a.m. on WOIO. It will also air Sunday, April 30 at 4:30 p.m. on WUAB.

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