Former Falcons defensive end and Syracuse legend Tim Green revealed Wednesday that he has been diagnosed with ALS.
Green, who became a lawyer, television analyst and author after his playing days, wrote on Facebook that he recently found out he had a "slow-progressing version" of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig's disease. ALS is a neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, causing reduced muscle functionality as the condition progresses.
"While the football field is far away, I find myself in a formidable struggle," Green wrote. "For the past five years I've been coping with some neurological problems in my hands. At first the doctors thought the damage I'd done to my elbows in football was the culprit, so they operated to release the nerves, but the issue persisted and my voice began to weaken as well. That's the only reason I've had to stop visiting schools to talk with kids. Finally, I was diagnosed with ALS. That's the bad news.
"Now the good news: Like many conditions, ALS has different forms," Green added. "While of course I'd rather not have it at all, I am extremely grateful that mine is a slow-progressing version of the disease."
Green will appear on CBS' 60 Minutes on Sunday to talk about the condition and his belief that football is at the heart of the diagnosis. Green was a two-time All-American while playing for Syracuse from 1982-1985 and was drafted by the Falcons with the 17th-overall pick in 1986. He started 71 games and recorded 24 career sacks while with Atlanta.
Before Green's diagnosis, there were at least 15 other former NFL players who were found to have ALS, including former 49ers legend Dwight Clark, who died in June.
The 60 Minutes show will also kickoff Green's fundraising efforts aimed at "making a huge difference to those with the disease and those who will have it in the future."
"As always, I will spend the coming days and years counting the blessings I have instead of pining for the things I don't," Green wrote. "Today I will take a walk. I will work and write and kiss each of my kids as well as my beautiful wife. That's a great day. As good as it gets..."