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John Brodie, Quarterback SEPTEMBER 20, 1971

April 12, 2004
April 12, 2004

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April 12, 2004

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John Brodie, Quarterback SEPTEMBER 20, 1971

John Brodie played in two NFC Championship Games, was the NFL's
MVP in 1970 and won a tournament on the Senior PGA circuit 21
years later, yet his latest athletic endeavor--swinging a golf
club again after suffering a massive stroke--has proved to be the
most difficult.

This is an article from the April 12, 2004 issue Original Layout

On Oct. 23, 2000, while at son Bill's house in Newport Beach,
Calif., watching the New York Jets play the Miami Dolphins on
Monday Night Football, Brodie felt his right hand going numb. By
the time he drove to his own house, in La Quinta, the numbness
had subsided, so he watched the end of what turned out to be the
longest Monday-night game ever. But when he awoke the next
morning, he couldn't get out of bed or even talk. He was rushed
to Eisenhower Medical Center, in Rancho Mirage, where doctors
discovered that Brodie's carotid arteries were almost completely
blocked and the speech center of his brain had been severely
damaged. Brodie underwent emergency surgery that saved his life,
but there was great uncertainty about his recovery. "The doctors
didn't offer a lot of hope, but they didn't really know," says
Brodie's wife of 46 years, Sue. "It really takes a lot of
determination, a strong will and the desire to survive and get
better."

The competitiveness that marked Brodie's 17-year career as a
quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers and his 13 years as a
Senior tour player emerged soon after he was out of danger.
Partially paralyzed on his right side and able to utter only a
few words, he spent a year in a standard physical and speech
therapy program for stroke patients. But after making limited
progress, Brodie turned to Rebound Sports and Physical Therapy, a
private clinic in Abilene, Texas, that was experimenting with
nonconventional rehabilitation techniques.

On an average of about six times a year Brodie, 68, has traveled
to Texas for four-or six-week treatment sessions that include
intensive speech and exercise therapy as well as electrical
stimulation of his right arm and leg. Brodie's vocabulary is up
to more than 1,000 words. (In an attempt to re-create speech
patterns, the therapist has played tapes from Brodie's 11 years
as an NFL commentator for NBC.) His right leg is almost as
functional as it was before his stroke, he can lift his right arm
parallel to the floor, and he now travels to Texas by himself.
(His physicians and physical therapist have applied for a patent
on their aggressive techniques.)

"He's always looking for something to strive for and is very
positive," says Bill. "That's why he had success in football,
too."

The Brodies also have four daughters--Kelly, Cammie, Diane and
Erin--as well as 10 grandchildren. "He's more family-oriented and
plays more with the grandkids," Bill says of his father's
poststroke lifestyle. John hopes that one day he will be able to
show them all a new golf swing. --Andrea Woo

COLOR PHOTO: SHEEDY & LONG (COVER) AIR RAID Brodie's 2,941 passing yards in '70 led the NFL.COLOR PHOTO: CARLOS AVILA GONZALEZ/THE SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE [See caption above]

An MVP with the 49ers, a Senior golf tour winner and a TV
commentator, Brodie is battling back from a stroke.