MIAMI -- Miami Dolphins folk hero Zach Thomas, after a career marked by repeated concussions, is donating his brain to the Boston University School of Medicine, which has conducted groundbreaking research on football-related trauma.
Thomas was named to the NFL's All-Decade team Sunday. He played linebacker for 13 seasons. He attempted to make it 14 last year, but the Kansas City Chiefs cut him after he suffered another concussion in training camp.
"I would like to make sure the game of football survives," Thomas said in a story by Palm Beach Post reporter Hal Habib. "The scientific findings to date are clear that repetitive trauma to the head results in [chronic traumatic encephalopathy] in many athletes. I want to do my part to help the researchers understand this disease and to discover treatments and an eventual cure.
"This is not just about professional athletes who may know there are risks to the game. This is about making sure that the game is safe for all of those children playing the game today and in the future."
Thomas was a hard-charging, overachieving tackle machine for the Dolphins. But that reputation gave way later in his career. The Dolphins released him after he missed most of 2007 with a concussion that was soon followed by residual affects exacerbated by a rear-end auto collision on his way home from a game.
Rather than think of a great player, many observers feared for Thomas' safety, knowing that one more concussion could be devastating for him.
"They labeled me with that, as prone for concussions," Thomas said after the Dolphins cut him and he joined the Dallas Cowboys in 2008. "Everybody just thinks I'm some guy out here that's punch drunk, running around."
Thomas was one of 19 active or retired players to join the Boston University registry. Others with AFC East ties include former Buffalo Bills offensive lineman Conrad Dobler, former New England Patriots cornerback Michael Haynes and Patriots tight end Don Hasselbeck.