Is NFL star Julius Peppers at risk of Alzheimer’s disease?

We’ve all seen the glam and glitz associated with the NFL Superbowl. Months of hype precede the main event where two giants of the league slug it out for the glory of claiming the most coveted trophy in American football.

While adoring fans in beer hats, big foam hands and other paraphernalia sing, cheer and guzzle beer, and bookies the world over take huge bets on the winners and runners up, its the professionals out on the pitch who take the biggest gamble.

According to a new committee spearheaded by Sean Morey (Arizona Cardinals wide receiver) formed to deal with the long term effects of head traumas, there is a serious risk of professional players developing Alzheimer’s disease as well as other neurological disorders, including vertigo and depression, earlier in life than normal.

“The creation of this committee was designed to bring both independence and expertise to the ongoing analysis of serious head injuries so we can better protect our players. I am confident that Sean Morey and Dr. Mayer will lead this team to gather more comprehensive data and provide real solutions for our players, both past and present,” NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith was quoted as saying on NFL.com.

The new season begins in earnest on 12 September and players such as Kyle Turley will hope that fellow pros do not suffer the same problems as him since his retirement in 2007 after nine years of clashing heads with the big boys.

For a year he’d been having headaches every day as well as vertigo. While out for dinner with his wife he started feeling hot, light-headed and sweated heavily. Nausea crept over him and whilst getting some air in the car park he vomited. The sickness continued all the way to hospital where his limbs were shaking and he became disorientated and unable to speak.

Other former stars such as Pittsburgh Steelers Mike Webster and Terry Long fell into depression after their careers ended, the latter dying after drinking anti-freeze. Philadelphia Eagles Andre Waters committed suicide after suffering a mental breakdown.

It is hoped that the NFLPA committee’s findings will lead to ways of preventing current superstars like Julius Peppers of the Chicago Bears or Cincinnati BengalsCarson Palmer from falling victim to Alzheimer’s disease.

Read our coverage about Bronco Denver’s wide receiver Kenny Mckinnley, who died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Images: http://www.sxc.hu/browse.phtml?f=download&id=655092, http://connect.in.com/julius-peppers/photos-1-1-1-6807f65483cb608fd62773ecdab8a1cd.html