Former NFL Star Brett Perriman Hospitalized: By Yvonne Griffin

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Updated: May 11, 2016

On Friday evening,  I spent a few hours watching “Concussion,” the 2015 movie starring rap artist, turned actor, now Hollywood sensation Will Smith.

Smith plays the role of Dr. Bennet Omalu, an accomplished pathologist who resided in the Pittsburgh, PA area during a time when several Steelers’ players committed suicide. Omalu, who initially performed an autopsy on former center Mike Webster and later other players, found a common thread locked deep in the brain of the deceased men.

The disease, later named by the doctor himself, is known as “Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE),” a progressively degenerative condition found in people who have had severe trauma to the head. As a result, Omalu set out on a journey to alert the National Football League of the detriment brought on by the often violent collisions on the field.

After multiple death threats, being shunned by his peers and almost losing his right to remain in the country, Omalu made the league, the world even, take notice of the issue at hand. Since then, the NFL has settled lawsuits with the families of the deceased players, as well as with former players still suffering from the disease. Several players retired early, citing possible health effects later in life, and for the safety of current players, the league has made new rules and regulations to protect them on the field…albeit too late for many.

That brings me to my purpose for writing this article today. I came across a story detailing the current health condition of a 10 year, ex-NFL player and alum Brett Perriman. On Tuesday, the former wide receiver collapsed and was rushed to the hospital. The following day, the 50-year-old Perriman was placed on life support but has been reported as showing signs of improvement.

The diagnosis of his illness is listed as “extreme high blood pressure,” according to one news source, yet another states Perriman suffered an aneurysm, still another says “a possible stroke.” Regardless of the diagnosis, the brain is involved, and given the history amongst relatively “young” and healthy former players, this latest occurrence should cause eyebrows to raise.

While it has not been the “norm” to hear of ex-players collapsing from CTE, that doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened. The problem is this: diagnosis for CTE can only be made post-mortem and after an autopsy. It is the opinion of this writer we will hear more about Perriman’s illness sooner or later, hopefully a lot later than sooner.

Following a four-year career at the University of Miami, Perriman was selected in the second round of the 1988 NFL Draft by the New Orleans Saints. After four years marching with the Saints, he was traded to the Detroit Lions where he played for the next six years. He was eventually sent to the Kansas City Chiefs, and finally the Miami Dolphins before ending his NFL career. During the 10 years between 1988 and 1998, Perriman caught 525 passes for 6,589 yards and 30 touchdowns. The highlight season of his stint in the NFL was in 1995 in Detroit where he had 108 receptions for 1,488 yards.

Perriman is the father of Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Breshad Perriman.