Ex-San Diego Charger Steve Hendrickson talks about his brain injury following $765M NFL settlement

Linebacker played for Bolts in the early 90s

SAN DIEGO - A former San Diego Charger who suffered severe head trauma during his years with the NFL, sat down with 10News reporter Preston Phillips to explain his battle just living life.

Linebacker Steve Hendrickson spoke following the NFL's $765 million settlement over thousands of head injury claims, similar to his.

Hendrickson said he loved playing in the NFL and was a powerhouse linebacker for the Chargers in the early 90s.

However, Hendrickson is now 47-years old, and said he is a much different man.

"I lost my family. I lost my house. I lost, you know, everything," said Hendrickson.

Since Hendrickson retired from the NFL 18 years ago, he has been diagnosed with degenerative brain disease.

"They say the material of the brain that holds your brain together -- the matter -- which they don't know what it is really, is just not regenerating," said Hendrickson.

Hendrickson blames his condition on the hits he took during his 8-year professional football career.

When asked how many hits he thought he had taken to the head, Hendrickson replied, "Oh I don't know. I know I got knocked out 13 times -- what they have on book, on record."

Hendrickson said it is tough to look in the mirror because of how much his brain injury has aged him.

He said his long term memory is great, but when it comes to his short term, "I can remember things that I learned in college and high school, 20 years ago, vividly, but it's hard to remember what I did yesterday. Like I can't even tell you what I ate for dinner last night."

Hendrickson said he is not even sure if he is included in the $765 million NFL class action lawsuit that has been decided on to settle 4,500 head injury claims.

"We got a letter saying if you don't want to be a part of this sign this and send it in," said Hendrickson.

Hendrickson hopes that since he didn't send it in, he will be included.

Meantime, Hendrickson said he is unable to work.

His sources of income are social security and benefits from the NFL, which he says are much less than they should be because his injury has been deemed non-NFL related, which he says it absolutely ridiculous.

"At the time when I was playing there was like you didn't tell anybody. It was just part of the game. You got dinged a little bit, 'put him back in the game.' I was told one time, 'Hendrickson the day you can't cover a kick off is the day you're out of the NFL.' I'm like OK. You just did whatever," said Hendrickson.

Hendrickson said he is afraid Dementia, Alzheimer’s or ALS will set in at some point.

He said all he can do is hope it doesn't.

Hendrickson said he backs his son who plays football in Escondido.

He said the helmet protection these days is completely different then when he played back in the late 80s and early to mid 90s.

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