Football Player's ALS Diagnosis Raises Fears of Connection to Sport
Tim Shaw, a special-teams ace and linebacker who played with the Carolina Panthers, Jacksonville Jaguars, Chicago Bears and Tennessee Titans, announced on Tuesday that he is the latest former player to be stricken by the horrible disease. ”Hi, I am Tim Shaw. A year ago I was playing NFL football. I recently have been diagnosed with ALS,” Shaw said in his message to fans on the Titans’ official website.
Per the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), ALS (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) — otherwise known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease — is a “progressive disease that attacks the nerve cells that control voluntary movement.” In essence, your brain functions normally while your body progressively ceases to operate.
The cause of the disease is unknown, and there is no known cure.
ALS has received widespread attention the past few weeks with the viral Ice Bucket Challenge that has swept the country via social media. The former Penn State standout, who is only 30 years old, took his turn at receiving a cold shower for a good cause.
"I am here today to stand up and fight with all of you against this disease," Shaw said. "I want to challenge the Tennessee Titans organization, Coach [James] Franklin and the Penn State football team and my Clarencevill [Michigan] community. Let’s do this."
On Tuesday afternoon, the Titans accepted Shaw’s challenge — oh, did they ever — en masse. And with pride, you’d have to imagine.
That’s now four recent former NFL players — including Steve Gleason, Kevin Turner and O.J. Brigance — who have been diagnosed with ALS in the past seven years. Now the biggest question becomes if there is a discernable connection between playing football and being diagnosed with ALS.