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WSU football has suffered heartbreak when it comes to brain injuries, mental health

WSU football has suffered heartbreak when it comes to brain injuries, mental health


Mind injuries and the psychological-health issues they can lead to have been perfectly documented when it arrives to football.

And even though this is certainly not just a Washington Condition problem, the Cougars have had a whole lot of heartbreak above brain accidents, most publicly when starting up quarterback Tyler Hilinski died by suicide in 2018 and was later located to have had CTE.

Bringing consciousness to the issue to the psychological concerns brought on by mind accidents was Cougar alumnus John Gravenkemper’s commitment for waving the No. 3 Hilinski WSU flag on ESPN’s “GameDay.” And it is why he distributed countless numbers of eye patches (“It’s a way for people today to see what it’s like to have a brain damage,” he points out) with a No. 3 on them at WSU football online games.

More not long ago, Gravenkemper has distributed No. 50 eye patches and waved the No. 50 flag on “GameDay,” in honor of his previous classmate Dan Grayson, a star linebacker for WSU in 1988-89. Grayson died at 54 in August and is suspected to have had brain issues.

“That’s all I am making an attempt to do, is carry recognition,” said Gravenkemper, who was not an athlete but experienced a traumatic brain injury as a consequence of an auto incident. “What about Nos. 90, 91, 95 and 99 (other Cougars whose deaths he believes had been at least in portion attributable to brain accidents). We shouldn’t be shedding so several players. Time period.”

Three of those numbers belonged to starting up defensive linemen on the 1998 Rose Bowl workforce.

Leon Bender, No. 91, was drafted in the next round by the Oakland Raiders in 1998, but died that May from a seizure soon after beforehand becoming diagnosed with epilepsy.

Dorian Boose, No. 90, was drafted in the next spherical by the New York Jets in 1998 and performed three seasons in the NFL, then assisted the Edmonton Eskimos acquire the Canadian Soccer League’s Grey Cup in 2003.

A singer and piano player, he was identified at Washington Point out for working with absolutely nothing that might possibly damage him — drugs, alcoholic beverages, even coffee. He died in 2016 in Canada — his demise ruled a suicide — after reportedly years of substance abuse. His family verified a short while ago that he experienced CTE.

Gary Holmes, No. 95, died in 2018 at 43, leaving Shane Doyle as the very last residing setting up defensive lineman from that storied WSU team.

That actuality pains Ryan Leaf, the star quarterback on that WSU workforce, who has been open up about his struggles with psychological health and fitness and substance abuse.

“It bothers me significantly, and in unique Dorian and Gary simply because equally of them had been dealing with some thing that I dealt with, working with mental wellbeing and compound abuse troubles and we weren’t in a position to support,” Leaf claimed. “It’s unfortunate, it’s disappointing, and I miss out on them all greatly. They were being these kinds of good folks and there is a great deal of survivors’ guilt that will come with that.”

Leaf said the point that his possess mental-wellness concerns have been so community meant that “I was forced to tackle my brain trauma and my psychological wellness and all those items, and it is nevertheless an unbelievable operate in progress.”

“But (Boose and Holmes) experienced in silence and they experienced in the darkish and that seemingly has been the bigger difficulty in all of this, that the stigma continue to exists in such a way that when one particular is heading through that, they simply cannot reach out.”

Mark Hilinski, Tyler Hilinski’s father, started Hilinski’s Hope with his wife, Kym. Its mission is “to market consciousness and training of psychological well being and wellness for college student athletes.”

“We all want to get to the level where by we really don’t have to simply call an individual brave when they say, ‘I am not pondering straight,’” Mark Hilinski claimed in Oct even though promoting Faculty Soccer Mental Wellbeing 7 days.

Hilinski thinks that points are headed in the suitable course, noting there are quite a few teams striving to make that materialize. And so is Gravenkemper.

“If a person is living with another person who has a brain personal injury, who do you communicate to?” Gravenkemper said. “I am trying to set up a team of folks at Washington Condition who are inclined to help. And like I stated, I really don’t want to eliminate a lot more Cougs.”



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