Sixteen years after playing his final NFL snap, former Bills running back Thurman Thomas is still feeling the side effects of his 13-year career.
The Pro Football Hall of Famer was at Niagara's International Concussion Summit recently, and for the first time, he shared details about the devastating effects that head injuries have had on his post-football life.
"This is actually the first time I've come out and spoken to anyone publicly about this issue," Thomas said, via the Niagara Falls Review. "I don't discuss it at home. I don't really discuss it with my friends. It's something that I'm really not comfortable talking about because I want to get more facts about it, I want to get more knowledgeable about it."
Thomas explained that during a recent trip to the doctor, he was told that his brain looked "similar to someone who has fallen off the top of a house, on to the front of his head, or [someone who went] through a windshield of a car several times. He said that's 'decent' ... for an NFL football player who had just played in the National Football League for 13 years. Not great, but decent."
The 1991 NFL MVP says that he blacked out after suffering his first concussion in the NFL.
"Before I got to the ground, everything just went pitch black," Thomas said. "My eyes are open, but I can't see anything."
The 49-year-old, who turns 50 on May 16, says that things have only gotten worse since his NFL career ended. Thomas then shared a story of getting lost on a street that he drives on all the time.
"I didn't know where I was and I didn't know what I was doing," Thomas said. "I had to make the most difficult call I've ever made. I had to pull over on the highway, call my wife, and explain to her the events that just happened. She said, 'You need to come back home.' I knew that there was a problem."
Besides memory loss, Thomas also deals with mood swings.
"Still to this day, I can't control my mood swings," Thomas said. "On so many days, I have to apologize to my family for them. I thank God that I have a family that understands the things that I've been through over my 13-year career, and even after my 14 or 15 years that I've been retired. They all understand that with my mood swings, sometimes I just can't help it."
Thomas spent 12 years with the Buffalo Bills and played in four Super Bowls. The five-time Pro Bowler led the NFL in all-purpose yards three times during his 13-year career.