Fullback Le’Ron McClain made the most of his time in the NFL. Over seven seasons with the Baltimore Ravens, Kansas City Chiefs and San Diego Chargers, he made two Pro Bowl teams and was first-team All-Pro in 2008.
But McClain has been out of the league since 2014, and retirement apparently has not been easy.
The 34-year-old has sustained multiple severe concussions over his career, which has made life hard for him. McClain voiced his struggles with those head injuries on Twitter in a series of messages Saturday morning:
I have to get my head checked. Playing fullback since high school. Its takes too fucking much to do anything. My brain is fucking tired.... @NFL i need some help with this shyt. Dark times and its showing. Fucking help me please!! They dont care I had to get lawyers man!— LeRon McClain (@LeRon_McClain33) August 24, 2019
Need to tell my story of how my head is crazy and how football did it.... Please someone help me get this out the @NFL puts paperwork in out faces and thats it. Yes its programs fuck all that I need help now I need a plan..... Fuck Man. They dont fucking get it man— LeRon McClain (@LeRon_McClain33) August 24, 2019
Watch how fast they come to aid if I was som3 QB or anything but no I was fucking fullback that did it all. @NFL I need help and i need the process to speed the fuck up Im about to crash out and its paperwork I dont wanna hear it. Fuck man im done.... Im out— LeRon McClain (@LeRon_McClain33) August 24, 2019
Plainly, McClain’s tweets are hard to read. The man is struggling with head injuries and cognitive function, which is devastating amid a community that is painfully familiar with the topic.
A number of former players have dealt with traumatic brain injuries. A New York Times study revealed chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in 110 of 111 former NFL players, and even accounting for valid issues with the study, it’s still a distressing indicator.
McClain has talked about dealing with head injuries before. In a 2013 story written by Bleacher Report’s Mike Freeman, one of his many concussions was documented in vivid detail.
He was with the Kansas City Chiefs. It was 2011. There was a collision, the details of which he still cannot exactly remember. The symptoms began with a dull pain in his neck, then a tingling sensation that started in his feet, then a constellation in his head.
The stars eventually disappeared, but the tingling stayed.
McClain stayed on the ground for a moment, then slowly made his way to the bench. He put his helmet close by, thinking he would shake it off and return to the game. This is the fighter mentality. This is what players like him have done for a generation.
Fullback is arguably the most vulnerable position to concussion because it requires blocking and making head-on contact each down. But concussions aren’t the only contributing factor to CTE; a recent Boston University study found that repetitive hits to the head was the largest factor.
At the same time, though, fullbacks have largely fallen out of favor in the NFL as the passing game has opened up. Many teams don’t employ fullbacks, and teams only used multiple-running back sets 18.8 percent of plays last season, according to Sharp Football Stats. And even that includes instances where teams used two true running backs, such as the Chicago Bears’ Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen.
The NFL and its fans have become far more aware of how head injuries affect players, but being able to help players who are already dealing with those consequences is important, too. The NFLPA has several tools to help players, although McClain could be experiencing how paperwork can slow that process down.
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