Larry Carr Ph.D.
WHY ME? Qualifications/Experience
- All-Conference LB – Western Athletic Conference
- MVP Defense – BYU 1974 – Conference Champions – Fiesta Bowl
- Western All-Star Team – Canadian Football League 1976
- BYU Hall Of Fame – Inducted 2010
- Named ‘Greatest Defensive Player in BYU history’ – #36 – Bleacher Report 2011 – Career leader in tackles/game (13) and defensive points/game.
- Ph.D. – Exercise Physiology BYU – 1980
- Married – 1972 – 4 Children – 12 grand-kids
- Love Football
- Living with CTE?
Personal Statement – Faced with the challenge of an abusive childhood and coaches who thought I was just “not enough,” I pushed through barriers and fought stereotypes that tried to label and limit me. I was a too small and too slow middle linebacker who learned to survive, and then thrive, in a world of giants. Determination and persistence led to my induction into the Brigham Young University Athletic Hall of Fame and was named in 2011 by the Bleacher Report as “BYU’s greatest defensive player of all time.” Following my football career I returned to BYU and completed a Ph.D in exercise physiology/Zoology. However, my success in football came with a heavy price. Diagnosed with traumatic brain damage and probable CTE from years of playing a sport I loved, this blog describes a journey to find answers while battling this insidious and progressive disease. Faith and hope gave me the perseverance that led me to a remarkable treatment that science said did not exist and was as miraculous as it was simple. My story travels through a difficult childhood and into the locker room and beyond to tackle the hard questions about abuse, CTE, the NCAA and NFL, and the coming disruption that clouds the future of this sport. Mine is a story of trials and redemption, love and forgiveness that will provide inspiration and resolve to those seeking to find greater peace, understanding and hope when facing the trials of this life. Hope not only for individuals and families suffering the effects of brain disease, but for the sport of football itself.
Laurie Carr – Larry and I have been married for 46 years. We dated in High School and I followed him to Brigham Young University when he went there to play football. We have four children and twelve grandchildren and our lives revolve around them and our religion. We are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. We are retired middle school teachers trying to enjoy our retirement and our family in spite of the challenge of Larry’s brain injuries.
Almost 20 years before he was officially diagnosed, I started noticing changes in Larry’s language. In his 40’s, he began to lose words, which isn’t a such a big deal. We age, we forget things. But then he began substituting strange sounds for words he couldn’t remember. I asked him how he managed at work, teaching middle school PE (he could no longer function as a university professor). He said he would just stop talking until the word came to him. But when he was around family or friends, when he was comfortable and relaxed, he didn’t try to control what was happening.
A few years later, when we saw the documentary “A League of Denial,” we looked at each other and both wondered if the “hits” he prided himself on when playing football could be the cause of the sudden personality changes and worsening language problems he was experiencing. Could it be CTE, Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, the brain disease felling so many old football players? Convinced we needed to know, and after immersing ourselves in the literature, Larry went through extension neurological testing. After over 10 hours of tests, the results were significant brain damage most likely due to football related concussive head injury. As the years passed his symptoms increased and he grew fearful and anxious, and almost paralyzed by social anxiety. My logical, scientific minded husband became emotional, stubborn and at times, irrational.
While we were working, I was a middle school teacher at a school not far from his, I was worried about his behavior. My worries were confirmed when Larry was finally forced into early retirement because of his increasingly obsessive paranoia and we struggled with what the future might bring. We finally decided serving a mission for our church might bring him a sense of peace and purpose he desperately needed. When we were working, I knew he was struggling, but it wasn’t until I retired that I began to see what he was going though on a daily basis. Our mission was in Boston to do genealogy research. Once we arrived we were together literally 24/7 and I began to understand the depth of his suffering. Instead of being an exciting opportunity to be of service, the first 10 months of our mission were extremely difficult. His symptoms did not improve, in fact they got worse. In desperation he contacted Boston University, a major center for CTE research. From that first contact, we have immersed ourselves in the world of CTE research and possible treatment and found, for us, what has been life changing.