Last Tuesday the Dallas Country Club’s ballroom was filled to capacity for the Center for BrainHealth‘s Legacy Award Dinner chaired by Barry Andrews and Alan White and Event Chair Julie Hawes. Breaking with the tradition of honoring an individual yearly, the 2012 award was presented to two people — Daryl Johnston and Lee Roy Jordan. Despite being a generation apart, these two former Dallas Cowboys have teamed up for far more than being honorees.
As all past recipients (Dianne Cash, Debbie Francis, T. Boone Pickens, James Huffines and Dee Wyly) looked on, Dr. John Hart Jr. introduced the 2012 honorees as his idea of what a hero is — “A hero is somebody to me who gives of themselves for others and doesn’t ask for anything in return.”
For those who might not know, Daryl and Lee Roy have spearheaded involvement by NFL players in a study on how concussions affect the brain.
Daryl told the crowd that as former football players, their greatest fear is of the unknown. “We already know that we’re 19% more likely to have early onset dementia or Alzheimer’s than the general public.
“Whether it’s injury, whether it’s accident or whether it’s the impact lifestyle that you live, The Center for BrainHealth is the first place that I’ve heard of where you can go in and be evaluated. And if the news is not positive, at that point there’s still hope. And that was the biggest thing for me. [That], and when Dr. Hart talks about us going and convincing the other members of our community to come to the Center for BrainHealth to be evaluated and get the help that they need.
“I continued to push NFL Commissioner [Roger] Goodell about this. I continue to talk to all the people that I played football not only with, but against. There are several guys I played against whom I respected as players and loved the way that they played. And I know that they are not in good health right now. I want them to come here. I want them to know that if they get a bad prognosis, that there is a way for them to get back the cognitive abilities that they have lost at that point. This is the first time this opportunity has been present. . .. This is critical. As we moved forward, whether it’s a child, a friend of yours or someone who is very, very close, this institute will help somebody along the way.
“Whether you’re a soldier, a football players, whether your child has had a concussion early on in life. . . whatever the reasons are, this is the one place in the country that you need to be at.”
According to Lee Roy, years ago he met with BrainHealth’s Dr. Sandra Chapman and Dr. Hart about the effect of football on the brain (aka impact injury). He and Daryl then rounded up about 40 players together in a matter of weeks to “participate in a study” that will be published in weeks.
Regarding a program that he and some of his teammates will start in January, Lee Roy said, “My memory is sometimes okay; sometimes not okay. So I want to admit that and I will work on it freely.”
He reported that six of the players who had participated in the study had been diagnosed with depression that they didn’t know they had.
Continuing on, he added, “We’re gonna bring recognition to the concussion question. We want people to know that and parents that instead of pushing their 8-year-old, 9-year-old and 7-year-old so hard, we need to inform them what the results can be.”
He also thanked his fellow former Dallas Cowboys (Chuck Howley, Cliff Harris, John Fitzgerald, D.D. Lewis, Bob Breunig and Tony Castillo).
Before accepting their awards, Daryl advised the crowd that the Center for BrainHealth “is not a rehab center. It’s a performance enhancement center.”