Head Injury Cover Ups In The NFL and My 9 Brain Surgeries

George VisgerCorrespondent IFebruary 3, 2010

Football/Education History & Injuries

George Visger • Stockton, CA

Pop Warner 1970-1972

Amos Alonzo Stagg High 1973-1975

University of Colorado 1976-1979

NY Jets and SF 49ers 1980 – 1981

  • 1970 - 7th grade.  West Stockton Bear Cubs Pee Wee Pop Warner – Champs, Jr. Redwood Bowl. Started both ways DE, TE.
  • 1971 – 8th grade. West Stockton Bear Pop Warner – Coach Jon Gustorf. Played LB. 
  • 1972 – 9th grade. West Stockton Bears, Champs, Gold Nugget Bowl.  Team captain, started both ways OG, LB.  Hospitalized with first serious concussion. Knocked myself out in a Bull-In-The-Ring drill, broken fingers, possible fractured hand.
  • 1973 Stagg High sophomore team. Started both ways OT, DT.  Several minor concussions (weren’t considered concussions then)
  • 1974 Stagg High “The Family”. Started at DT. 1974 SJAA Champs 9-1-1. Played in the Turkey Bowl “vs.” Merced, our only loss in 2 years. Unanimous All-City and All-League selection. Many minor concussions                                                
  • 1975 Stagg High “The Family”.  75 SJAA Champs, 75 Turkey Bowl Champs. 11-0  ranked 3rd in State. Unanimous All City and All League both OT and DT. All Northern California , Selected to Top 100 HS All American team. Captain of the 1976 Lions All Star North team as OT. Many more minor concussions and had my bell rung 2 or 3 times, broken fingers.
  • 1976 -1979 University of Colorado. 1976 Big 8 Champs, played Ohio State in 1977 Orange Bowl. Won starting position at DT during spring ball freshman year. 3 year starter, Honorable Mention All Big- 8 1979. 3rd leading tackler in 1979, and currently number 11th on All-Time CU sack record. 3-4 concussions (beroken and dislocated fingers, knee drained, severe Lt ankle sprain (3x soph yr).ll rung but never unconscious) and MANY minor ones.
  • 1980 2 weeks before draft, fractured sacral 8 vertebrae doing squats (did not know I broke it till the following spring after my rookie year). Developed incredible sciatica did not pass my physical at the Jets in May, 1980 due to weakness in rt. leg from sciatica.
  • 1980 6th round draft pick of NY Jets (149th overall pick).
  • 1980 Drafted by Calgary Stampeders and practiced with for 2 weeks after Jets let me go end of preseason.     
  • 1980 - SF 49ers. Major concussion first play with 49ers in 1980 “vs” Dallas.  6th game of season. Trainers said I used 25 – 30 smelling salts during game. Member of the 1981 Super Bowl Championship team.                                 
  • 1980 – December.  Began Visger Family Homeless Xmas dinner
  • 1981 – May 10, minicamp.  Blew out lt knee, trainers had to pop it back into joint.  Dr Behling said sprain. 
  • 1981 – May and June.  Had knee drained 2 – 3 x of 60 – 70ccs of blood.  Behling still said it was only a sprain.
  • 1981 – July.  Surgery on Lt knee.  All cartilage removed, but had actually torn my ACL, which Dr Behling did not repair.
  • 1981 – August and Sept. Major headaches, projectile vomiting, loss of vision and hearing each night, which began 2 wks after my first knee surgery. Culminated in focal pt paralysis of lt arm.
  • 1981 – September. Emergency VP shunt brain surgery # 1 at Stanford Hospital. Dr Koenig. 2 weeks in intensive care.
  • 1982 – prior to May. Arrested 3xs and lost truck several times after going out drinking. Never arrested prior, or lost truck. Saw Dr. Koenig, my original neurosurgeon at Stanford and relayed my problems when I drank. Said not from his surgery, did CAT scan, OK’d me to go to Mexico next day fishing, and OK’d to drink.
  • 1982 – May-  Second day in Mexico with brother Mel and wife Nancy, I have one margarita with dinner and get major headaches and go into  coma. Takes Mel a day to get me out of country and back to Sacramento.
  • 1982- May.  Emergency VP shunt brain surgery # 2 and # 3, ten hours apart. Given last rites. Surgeries performed by Dr. Cully Cobb.  He reviewed my CAT scan taken prior week and stated it clearly showed my shunt was not functioning properly. No memory for entire summer, and very little first year.  
  • 1982  Creditors on me for payment of brain surgeries # 2 & #3 till I successfully won a Workers Comp suit against the 49ers in 1986.
  • 1984 knee continued to deteriorate. Dr. David Coward operates Knee surgery # 2, but can’t fix as I have no ACL.  Refers me to Dr. Steadman in Tahoe for an experimental Gore-Tex ACL transplant.
  • 1984 – September.  Knee surgery # 3.  Gore-Tex ACL transplantby Dr. Steadman in Lake Tahoe. Said my entire ACL was torn off the femur.
  • 1984 awarded Outstanding Former West Stockton Bears player award. 
  • 1986 Won Workers Comp case against 49ers and returned to finish my Biology degree at Sacramento State University.
  • 1986 – 87 Emergency brain surgeries # 4, 5,6 & 7 in one 10 month period while taking Chemistry and Physics
  • 1987- 55 minute Grand mal seizure in class, 48 hours after a brain surgery.
  • 1987 – Developed dyslexia from repeated surgeries and seizures
  • 1987 Completed a Class B General Contractors license
  • 1987 Inducted into Stagg High Hall of Fame for community involvement (Visger Family Homeless Xmas Dinner).   
  • 1989 – November. Headaches and CT scan.
  • 1998 Inducted with the Stagg “Family” into The Stockton Athletic Hall of Fame.  One of the first teams to be inducted
  • 1990 –April. Began part time work as a wildlife Biologist with Jones and Stokes
  • 1990 – May. Graduated with BS in Biological Conservation degree. Sacramento State University.
  • 1990 – December.  Headache Clinic for headaches, lack of memory, increasing irritability and short tempered.  Went to a counselor once (Dr. Richard Boylin), who fell asleep on me while I was talking.  Lot of pain in the neck, low back and lt knee, and increasing hearing loss.
  • 1991- Sac Rehabilitation Medical Group.  Dr. Hartzog.  First time I returned in 2 yrs.  Complained of sciatica, back pain.  Diagnosed with degenerative disc disease.
  • 1991 – July.  Seeing Jean Trauber Family Counselor for explosive anger, obsessive thinking and memory disorder.  Stated they are therapeutic issues related to my injuries.
  • 1991-July . Refused for MRI on back.
  • 1991 – December 9. Sacramento Headache clinic for recurring headaches last few weeks.  
  • 1991 – December 10.  Emergency VP Shunt brain surgery # 8. 
  • 1995 – January 12.  Dr Vijayan for major headaches and neck pain.  
  • 1998- December 18.  Dr. Sauer attempted to inject radioisotope into shunt, but unsuccessful.  Shot it into my spine.
  • 1998 – December 18.  Grand mal seizure at work at Wild lands. Placed on 150 mg of Phenobarbital/day
  • 1998 – December 21.  Shunt gram with radioisotope.
  • 1998 – December 23.  Shunt gram and examined for possible shunt infection. Examined by Dr. Randy Martin, Infectious Disease at Sutter Roseville.
  • 1999- January 20.  Examined by Dr. Vijayan
  • 2000- July.  Dr Vijayan. For anger management issues per Kristi.
  • 2004-July 28.  Dr Vijayan. Still on 150 mg phenobarb. Memory problems more noticeable.
  • 2001 Inducted into Stockton Athletic Hall of Fame as an individual.
  • 2005 – October 28.  Rt arm clumsy and numb, and rt foot numb.  Arm numbness went away in a day, but foot remained numb to this day.
  • 2006 – April.  Dr. Claydon.  Back pain, irritability and anger management issues, and numbness in RT foot, memory problems.  Prescribed 750 mg Robaxin as muscle relaxant, and 800 mg Motrin, and 10 mg Lexapro.   Rec’d x-rays of pelvis and sacrum, and MRI of  lumbar.  Showed degenerative disc disease at T12, L4 and interspacel levels.  Osteoarthritis at lower lumbar facet joints is most marked at L5- S1 level on left side.
  • 2006- April 26.  Dr. Samman.  Tremendous low back pain, comparable to when I played at SF with a fractured S8 and major sciatica.
  • 2007 Inducted into Stagg Football Hall of Fame in Stockton, CA and jersey retired (second ever).
  • 2008- February 26.  Dr. Goshal (Sacramento).  Pain in lt shoulder girdle, numbness in lt upper extremity.  Requested MRI of brain and cervical spine.
  • 2008 – April 1.  MRI of cervical spine.  Dr. Goshal.  Mild degeneration of discs at C3, 4, 5, 6
  • 2008 – August.  Dr Goshal. Requests a neuropsychological test and EEG at his office
  • 2008 – August 13. Dr Goshal EEG.
  • 2008 – September 30.  Dr. Goshal.  Referred me to UCD.   I called 2 hours later from UCD (as he didn’t  refer me to anyone, just sent me down there). I couldn’t  be seen till Jan. and blew up on him.  Dr. Goshal refuses to see me any more.
  • 2009 – February 23.  Dr. Blaha (Grass Valley). Neurological consultation
  • 2009 – July 6, Dr Claydon. Kristi attended with me. Broke into tears explaining what it has been like living with me. She and kids are afraid of me. Dr Claydon referred me to Dr. Amen’s clinic in New Port Beach, CA for a full evaluation.
  • 2009-  July 6.  Called Dr Amen and emailed my Injury History.  He recommended a full 3 day evaluation (12 hr days).  I fought with The Travelers Work Comp till Oct to get evaluation approved.
  • 2009 – October 18 -21.  Kristi, Jack and I attended Dr Amen's clinic. He said it is a miracle I am even functioning, much less involved in 3 different businesses and doing motivational talks.  Said the SPECT scans of my brain show major damage to a number of areas, I am showing early stages of CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy), which killed Mike Webster, Andre Waters and a host of ex NFLers, and he would have me rated at 80% disabled.  Mentioned I was the 67th NFL player he has studied, and has evaluated 1,000s of individuals and my test results are amazing. Asked if we would be interested in being on the Oprah show with him in a couple months. 
  • Meeting with Dr. Bennett Omalu several times and asked to sit on his board.
  • Spoke at Traumatic Brain Injury hearing at State Capital (Sacramento) on 1/21/10 for the CA Brain Injury Association (CALBIA).
  • Spoke at Traumatic Brain Injury Hearing at State Capital on 2/13/10 for CALBIA.