Despite being too small and not athletic enough as a linebacker, Tim Krumrie managed to silence critics when he was playing in college and for the Cincinnati Bengals.
Now that he’s retired, he’s still fighting. This time against an invisible foe that is literally inside his head.
The 57-year-old has been suffering from the effects of a damaged frontal lobe, sustained after a 12-year career of grinding it out and wrestling much bigger opponents.
Although Krumries is the biggest advocate for getting yourself tested early for brain trauma, he wasn’t always as receptive. When he was dismissed as the defensive coach for the Kansas City Chiefs in 2010, he had trouble finding another coaching stint.
“That’s when it becomes, really, kind of scary,” he said, adding that he felt his brain slowing down.
The symptoms manifested themselves—sudden flare of anger, which they chalked up to the lack of job offers. Then his memory started failing and then his sense of balance followed. He always had an excuse until in 2015 when he just shut down from the rest of the world.
Krumrie’s wife, Cheryl, sensed that something is not right, especially since her husband just stopped working out—not even touching the bicycle that he loved so much.
“That was the most dramatic thing. That’s when I was like, ‘OK, there’s something wrong with him,’” she said.
A series of tests at the brain scan imaging facility in Littleton, Colorado, and second opinions from experts in the field confirmed the worst.
Instead of being resigned to his fate, as most men would have been, Krumrie decided to take the challenge head-on. Cheryl said that’s just the kind of man he is, just like during his playing days when everybody had all their doubts.
“That’s part of a professional athlete’s demeanor, their psyche, that when they decide to do something, it’s just do it and no halfway,” she said.