Jamal Lewis spent eight seasons in the NFL (missed one due to injury), racking up over 10,000 yards rushing and 58 touchdowns and punished defenders with his physical style. Now, according to a new feature from Bleacher Report’s Tyler Dunne, Lewis is suffering from the after-effects of all of those collisions and says he knows that he’s possibly living with CTE.
According to the story, Lewis has had suicidal thoughts, is dealing with polyps in his nasal passages that are restricting his breathing, and various other physical and mental maladies that he attributes to football. Overall, Lewis told Bleacher Report that he likely suffered 10 concussions during the course of his career and he relayed one incident from his final year with the Browns that is frightening.
“Getting his clock cleaned against Minnesota in the 2009 season opener. At the bar, he re-enacts this mano-a-mano collision along the sideline, pumping his arms before lowering his head into an imaginary safety and “Boom!” Lewis blacked out with his hands clenched into fists straight into the air. Vikings head coach Brad Childress’ voice—”Jamal! Jamal!”—woke him up, he stayed down for several moments, returned to his sideline, Browns coach Eric Mangini smiled, tapped him on the helmet and, voila, Lewis returned to action one play later.
Or at least a sleepwalking version of himself did.
“I was in survivor mode the whole time,” he says. “Listen to the play. Hold onto the ball. Find the first place to fall. Make it out of this game. That’s it. You’re all off. You’re off. Your eyes, your vision is off, everything’s just…off.”
Lewis went on to explain that after that hit, he still played in the next game. The symptoms of the concussion progressively got worse throughout the rest of the season until finally, he asked a trainer to give him a concussion test prior to the team’s game against the Bengals. According to Lewis, he was told it would have to wait until Monday following the game. That contest would turn out to be the last that he played in the NFL.
The 38-year-old won a Super Bowl with the Baltimore Ravens in 2000 and played for Baltimore from 2000-2006.