Former Falcons DE Tim Green reveals ALS diagnosis

Former Atlanta Falcons defensive end Tim Green, who became a lawyer, television commentator and author after his playing days, revealed that he has been diagnosed with ALS.

"While the football field is far away, I find myself in a formidable struggle," Green wrote on Facebook. "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."

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig's disease -- named after the Yankees great whose career and life were cut short by the disease -- is a progressive neurodegenerative disease in which the breaking down of nerve cells eventually leads to the reduced functionality in the muscles they supply.

Green, who will appear on 60 Minutes Sunday, was a two-time All-American while playing for Syracuse from 1982-85. He was the 17th overall draft pick of the Falcons in the 1986 draft and crossed the picket line during the 1987 strike. He went on to play until 1993, starting 71 games and recording 24 career sacks for Atlanta.

After football, Green earned his law degree and worked in television on Fox NFL Sunday, Good Morning America and A Current Affair. He wrote about his football experience in "The Dark Side of the Game: My Life in the NFL" and then made the New York Times bestseller list with a children's book about the game.

In his Facebook post, Green said the diagnosis is the "bad news."

"Now the good news: Like many conditions, ALS has different forms," he continued. "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."

The 60 Minutes show will serve as the kickoff of Green's fundraising effort to fund ALS research.

"As always, I will spend the coming days and years counting the blessings I have instead of pining for the things I don't," he 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..."