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Ex-Dolphins Star Mark Duper Showing Signs of CTE

16 DEC 1991:  MARK DUPER OF THE MIAMI DOLPHINS ON THE BENCH DURING THE DOLPHINS 30-38 LOSS AT THE SAN DIEGO CHARGERS. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Dunn/ALLSPORT
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
Matt FitzgeraldCorrespondent IIINovember 9, 2013

Former Miami Dolphins All-Pro wide receiver Mark Duper is reportedly showing signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), making him the ninth living ex-NFL player to be diagnosed with the disease.

William Weinbaum and Steve Delsohn of ESPN.com reported on the matter late on Friday, the same duo that reported on Wednesday that three other players—Tony Dorsett, Joe DeLamielleure and Leonard Marshall—received the same diagnosis.

The most recent report goes into detail about CTE—the degenerative disease linked to depression and dementia in the brains of pro football players—and some of the specifics behind it:

The conclusions regarding the former players, according to the researchers, are based on a brain scan that uses a radioactive marker to detect accumulations of abnormal tau, a protein that damages brain cells in areas that control memory, emotions and other functions. The researchers say the diagnoses also are based on symptoms reported by the former players and on clinical evaluations.

Duper shared his thoughts on the outcome of the testing with ESPN's Outside the Lines, saying that he was surprised about his condition while also briefly describing how he's felt the effects.

"It was shocking," said Duper. "I hoped nothing was wrong...I've had memory things where I would go to the store and forget what I went for. And I have emotional swings and panic attacks."

The 54-year-old was one of four players, along with Dorsett, DeLamielleure and Mitchell, who underwent testing over a three-month period at UCLA.

In January, the school announced that five other ex-players had been tested, and they all came back as showing signs of CTE.

Duper (left) and Mark Clayton formed the dynamic "Marks Brothers" receiver duo for the Dolphins.
Duper (left) and Mark Clayton formed the dynamic "Marks Brothers" receiver duo for the Dolphins.Rick Stewart/Getty Images

This diagnosis for Duper doesn't seem as surprising in the context of previous findings, which include official CTE diagnoses in over 50 deceased former NFL players.

Dorsett mentioned thinking about taking his own life in the Wednesday report. It's something that has occurred to Duper, but he also recognizes CTE doesn't signal the end of his life.

Once upon a time, everybody has thought about suicide, but I am not going to do it.

...I think this test will show the damage we are doing to our bodies and how to prevent it. People have to speak up about CTE. I hope me speaking out will show that people should be tested...It's not a death diagnosis. Now I know; the next step is to see what can be done. I'm not sure.

The fact that researchers are able to at least find indications of CTE in the living is a big breakthrough and may allow for further treatment in the future.

However, it is still discouraging and a serious concern for the sport of football moving forward.

Duper was a second-round pick out of Northwestern State and played all 11 of his NFL seasons with the Dolphins from 1982 to 1992, amassing 511 receptions for 8869 yards and 59 touchdowns.

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