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Dallas Legend Dorsett Talks Of Damage Football Has Done To His Brain

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(CBSDFW.COM) - NFL legend and Hall of Fame running back Tony Dorsett believes the violent hits he took during two decades of playing football have cost him his memory and more, he tells Mo Rocca in a powerful interview for CBS SUNDAY MORNING WITH CHARLES OSGOOD to be broadcast Jan. 24 at 8:00 a.m. on CBS11.

Dorsett, 61, says he started realizing he had problems when he couldn't remember how to get to familiar places and became short-tempered with his wife and four children. In 2013, Dorsett says he had his brain scanned at the UCLA Medical Center, and that the scans showed signs of CTE, a degenerative brain disease believed to be caused by concussions.

Dorsett says there was no discussion about the impact of concussions on athletes during his playing days. "No, nobody talked about concussions. And then if they did, it's like, 'shake it off and get back out there,'" says Dorsett, a former Dallas Cowboys star.

"Management knew way before players on what the damage that was being done to the players," Dorsett tells Rocca. "From my knowledge, they knew about it way before the players knew it."

"No one who was a part of the management team when Tony played in Dallas has been a part of the organization for the past 27 years, so it would not be appropriate for us to comment on their behalf," said a Dallas Cowboys spokesman.

Rocca reports on the ongoing concerns about concussions in all levels of football. He also talks with a six-year-old tackle football player and his mother, with sports columnist Sally Jenkins, and with Archie Manning, a former New Orleans Saints star and the father of current NFL quarterbacks Eli and Peyton Manning.

Manning doesn't believe youngsters need to play tackle football early on and advocates they play flag football until they reach the middle school level, as a way to cut down on contact and possible injury. Manning also says the NFL has done a lot "in the last three or four years to make the game safer at every level."

In a statement to CBS SUNDAY MORNING, the NFL declined to address player safety or Dorsett's assertions, but added that it welcomes "any conversation about player health and safety."

"I never thought that I would be going through what I'm going through right now because of playing football. But I just thought I'd just be retired like Mom and Pops. Just enjoying life," Dorsett says.

Given what he knows now, would Dorsett do it all again? "Absolutely," he says.

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