Posted November 09, 2013

Former Dolphins star Mark Duper tests positive for signs of CTE

NFL
Mark Duper played 11 seasons with the Dolphins. (Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Mark Duper played 11 seasons with the Dolphins. (Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Mark Duper learned he is the latest ex-NFL player to test positive for signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, according to CBS Sports.

Duper, 54, confirmed Friday night he learned of the diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment Friday afternoon after undergoing two days of tests at UCLA two weeks ago.

CTE is the latest challenge for the three-time Pro Bowler who survived kidney cancer two years ago.

“It is what it is,” Duper told CBS Sports. “I’m thinking back on my life and where I am going with this. I have to deal with it and make the best of it. It does make me think of the future and how things are gonna change.”

Three other former NFL stars were diagnosed with CTE this week. Pro Football Hall of Famers Tony Dorsett and Joe DeLamielleure, and former All-Pro defensive lineman Leonard Marshall were revealed to show signs of the condition caused by head trauma, with links to dementia and depression, according to an ESPN report.

MMQB: Special Series: Head trauma in football

Duper caught 511 passes for 8,869 yards and 59 touchdowns and was named All-Pro twice in 11 seasons with the Dolphins. He was inducted along with Mark Clayton into the Dolphins honor roll in 2003.

Duper told CBS Sports he has no regrets on playing the sport, and has come to recognize symptoms of CTE in recent years.

“I don’t have any regrets about playing,” Duper said. “I made a good living off football and I’m still making a living off it. You can’t regret something you enjoyed, something you love and I loved football.”

Duper said he had noticed some warning signs in recent years with some anger issues. He also said there are times when he’d go to a store and forget why he went there. He said he plans on beginning oxygen therapy treatment in the next few weeks. The former NFL star hopes he can help raise awareness about the issue.

“Hopefully, this can put things into perspective for younger players,” Duper added. “The rules are changing–the rules have changed. Players should get themselves tested.”


19 comments
Neuroscience
Neuroscience

This body of the article states that Duper and three other former NFL players were diagnosed with CTE.  In fact, Duper was diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) which presents as a subjective or objective impairment in cognitive performance (typically memory-based) that does not meet the diagnostic criterion of dementia; in other words, persons with MCi represent a continuum between normal aging and dementia.  As well, it is thought (but not proven) that persons with MCI are likely to progress (with aging) to dementia. Importantly then, Duper has been classified as having MCI (as an aside MCI is not, as of yet a clinical diagnosis) just like many others in his age-cohort (I see many persons in their 50's presenting with the MCI-like impairments).  Thus, suggesting that MCI is a direct corollary to CTE is entirely premature.  Moreover, the diagnosis of CTE would be an unfortunate one for any individual because it can only be made postmortem. 

Rick in Huahin!
Rick in Huahin!

At least now they can detect/diagnose it without having to wait till they go nuts and autopsy them!

So NFL, still deny any connection? Get them all the help they need!

DavidHarte
DavidHarte

If this guy--a small wide receiver who made his living far away from the line of scrimmage, one-on-one with 190 lbs cornerbacks--has CTE, this news is a bombshell.  Most people who love the game have been lying to themselves that only the interior players, or hard hitters like Ronnie Lott, are at risk.  Duper's diagnosis, and at such a young age, proves anyone on a football field is a candidate for permanent brain damage.

How can any parent allow their kid to play this game?  Football will become like boxing, a gladiator sport for the poor with big dreams and nothing to lose.  But if your kid is headed to college with or without football, what's the logic for playing?

KevinF
KevinF

No amount of cushioning in a helmet will prevent the brain from moving in the cranial cavity during violent impacts. Look at what happened to Dale Earnhardt - he had the all of the best NASCAR mandated safety requirements - helmet, seat belts, roll cage, etc - yet he died from a fatal skull fracture. I think the helmet will help to prevent skull injuries, but not brain trauma. I don't see how the helmet manufacturer can be held accountable.

nycsteelersfan
nycsteelersfan

I don't think everyone that is everyone that is diagnosed with CTE will exhibit symptoms of brain degeneration.  Due the media exposure given to recent NFL suicides that were attributed to brain degeneration caused by concussions, I think in some people have become overly cautious and doctors have become quick to diagnose CTE at the smallest sign of brain degeneration.

RealJDSportsFan1
RealJDSportsFan1

Great comments from some people on here. I don't know the ins and outs of CTE or head injuries from a medical standpoint and I agree that players need to save their money for life after football given that the NFL does not support them yet. However, I also think the NFL needs to address this issue or as some people below have stated, some of the better athletes will start migrating to other sports and the quality of play will dip eventually. I wrote up an article earlier this year addressing some legal issues with Junior Seau's family and their lawsuit against Riddell and the NFL: 

http://jdsportsfan.wordpress.com/2013/01/28/legal-implications-junior-seaus-family-sues-nfl-and-riddell-inc/

Frank Conidi MD, DO, MS
Frank Conidi MD, DO, MS

Although the UCLA studies remain promising, CTE is only a pathological condition. There are two issues with the media reports.

1. There are no studies correlating the clinical symptoms with the pathology. These studies are in progress and will take many years to complete. What needs to be done is to follow players early on preferably from grade school and at the least from the start of their NFL careers. Players would need to undergo baseline neuropsychological testing which would need to be repeated serially. The number of concussions would need to be documented and then when the player dies their brain examined for the pathology that is CTE. We are a long way off from a definitive diagnosis.

2. For the UCLA researchers they would also need to follow the patients serially with PET scanning and then examine the brains for CTE when the player dies. Clinical correlation as above would also be necessary as would concussion history.

The media has a tendency to blow things out of proportion.

oasis1994
oasis1994

This is sad news and I feel for Duper.

However; if you want to play a sport where you have the potential to make millions; this is the risk. Athletes should smarten up and instead of spending millions on cars, houses, clothing, etc., maybe they should save some money for life after sports and stuff like this. 

BrendanMiles
BrendanMiles

Very sad to hear. Super Duper had a real cult following down here in Australia in the 80's, along with Mark Clayton, one of the first real "international" stars of the NFL. Best wishes Dupe.

LouisGudema
LouisGudema

Wow - four ex-players diagnosed in one week. The NFL needs to make some big changes.

SlamaLama
SlamaLama

Do I risk the quality of my life for a job that might last 8 years? I don't think so.
I work so that I can live my life, I don't live my life so that I can work. 
No job is worth risking your health over.


EasyGoer
EasyGoer

Are you saying this is media driven and being blown out of proportion? If you aren't in on the study how do you know that they have reported all the small details of exactly what is happening ?

redmch91
redmch91

@oasis1994 I've been keeping an eye on some of the more outstanding 2 sport athletes recently.  Think you'll start to see a trend where great football players end up playing baseball or basketball professionally if they have the talent to do either. 

fillshiftley
fillshiftley

@LouisGudema ...maybe limit the amount of years they can play ...but then again we live in a so called free society and we can do what we want within the laws. Wondering how those old timers made it to seniorhood

James C
James C

@SlamaLama Does your job pay you enough over the course of 7 or 8 years (or even the average 3-4 year career) to not have to work for the rest of your life? This is the difference between highly paid professional athletes and "normal" working people who work to make money to live their life for that year. 

If you make 1 million per year over a 4 year professional football career, you have made the same amount of money that the average person will make in a 80 year work career (50K per year).  This also means those 4 years make double what the average person makes in a nearly average 40 year work career.  


It may seem like a no brainier to say I would never do this, but those who say this don't have the talent to be playing professional football making a million dollars per year doing it either. 

RealJDSportsFan1
RealJDSportsFan1

@redmch91 @oasis1994 Maybe the US will start being more successful in soccer if some of our best athletes start playing soccer instead. I know it's not likely but as a sports fan it's entertaining to imagine guys like Adrian Peterson, Chris Johnson, and Calvin Johnson playing for US Soccer.

train805
train805

Yeah, but how many of these players make $1mil in a year? Factor in taxes, agent fees, posse, bling, and they are putting about $0.00 per year in the bank. Its a sad fact that a large majority of these players will be broke within a couple years of their careers being over, the average working stiff might be living paycheck to paycheck because they keep buying garbage to "keep up with the joneses", but they wont be broke.