Bengal’s former Super Bowl injury taught him how to battle other football ravages

CINCINNATI — Tim Krumrie walked into the restaurant wearing a black Bengals cap and a shirt emblazoned with the Super Bowl logo he didn’t finish. His left leg — the one he fractured in three places, in perhaps the most gruesome injury in Super Bowl history — is fully healed. Of course it is. It’s been 33 years.

The most visible appendage is his hands. Krumrie doesn’t shake people’s hands so much as he engulfs them in a pincer. They hoisted 75-pound anvils in the Bengals weight room. They struggled with dual-team offensive linemen. They pushed a snowblower through slush Wisconsin in the winter of 1989, just weeks after surgeons implanted the 15-inch stabilizer nail inside his tibia.

Last week, on the other side of a semi-circle stand, Krumrie held out those same hands. One held his iPhone, the other flipped through photos until he found images of his brain, taken in August 2015. Spots of blue, spots of green.

These colors, revealed by nuclear imaging that shows how blood flows through tissues, indicated a lack of blood flow to affected areas of the brain. His doctor, having only read the analysis, asked Krumrie if he had experienced mood swings and balance issues, sleep disturbances and memory loss – common symptoms in gamers who have hit and been hit, as often as Krumrie has in his 12 years in the N.FL.

Yes, said Krumrie, he did.

For him and other NFL retirees, blows to the head — or “getting hit,” Krumrie’s favorite euphemism — were just an inconvenience during his playing days. revealed a stark truth: traumatic brain injury. Krumrie recognized the consequences of his exceptional career and accepted them. He also decided to de-stigmatize discussions of brain damage.

“It’s humbling to say, ‘Hey, I have a problem,'” said Krumrie, a two-time All-Pro nose tackle. “You’re supposed to be a badass. It’s reality. My reality is that I see this and I recognize this and I address this. Just like my leg, I tackled it. And I won.

Krumrie does not regret the role of football in his health. He would break his other leg, he said, just to play in another Super Bowl — not even to avenge Cincinnati’s loss to San Francisco at the end of the 1988 season. All those football games, he won or lost them. Either he tackled the ball carrier or he didn’t. They were binary propositions. The brain, when damaged, does not heal completely. So Krumrie (pronounced KRUM-rye) managed her symptoms by sticking to routines.

He quit drinking Diet Coke and alcohol. He reads every day – books about Jerry Rice, Vince Lombardi and Brett Favre, who, Krumrie noted, came to start in Green Bay in 1992 because Packers quarterback Don Majkowski injured his leg. peg on a Krumrie bag.

Before going to the market, he photographs what he has to buy. He writes Post-it reminders. Krumrie also continues to wear a device for the interview, which he likened to a football helmet without a face mask. It transmits infrared light into its skull to improve blood circulation.

After the first of 30 treatments, he said, names and memories came flooding back. His hands moved to another set of images, taken the last time he had nuclear imaging, called a Spect scan, in December 2015. Much better. More gray fills the screen. The imperfections, although still present, had receded somewhat.

“Some guys can’t talk about it,” Krumrie said. “Am I a badass? Put me in a ring with anyone – today. That mindset is still there. Can I do it? No. But my mind tells me I can.

The Cincinnati Enquirer detailed this phase of his life in December 2017, months before he and his wife, Cheryl Krumrie, left Steamboat Springs, Colorado, where they enjoyed skiing, snowshoeing and biking, and moved to the Cincinnati area. Return to the embrace of old friends. Back to familiar.

“We could surround Tim with people he’s known for a really long time who are accepting and willing to let these things go,” Cheryl said of the move. “And he feels very safe with them, like he doesn’t have to pretend he’s something he’s not.”

Only those who know Tim Krumrie well, she says, feel a difference. He still passes on the same traits that defined him in his footballing heyday. “Timmy could eat fingernails and spit them out,” said Jason Buck, a former Bengals teammate, 61. Krumrie trains two hours a day. A jerky laugh punctuates stories and sentences.

The Bengals’ 4-11-1 turnaround at the AFC champions invigorated Krumrie, although he still forgets things, as he did en route to the Arrowhead Stadium complex ahead of the Premier League game. this year’s AFC. As he and Cheryl walked past the Kansas City training facility, she asked him if he remembered, since he had coached there for four years. No, he said.

But on other days, he will remember anecdotes, names and words he thought lost forever.

“He’s stayed pretty stable,” Cheryl said. “And I’m happy about that, because there’s no progress. There is no recreation and reconditioning of the brain. I just try to stay in one place. The status quo suits me.

When Evan McPherson’s overtime field goal propelled the Bengals to the AFC title, the Krumries, guests of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, rejoiced. In a quiet moment in the sequel, their son, Dexter, told Cheryl that a Bengals Super Bowl win over the Los Angeles Rams would put an end to Tim Krumrie.

When Cheryl said this, Krumrie said he was going to cry: he hadn’t thought of it that way. He was just eager to scout the Rams’ position groups to see how the Bengals fared. He was sure they would beat Kansas City, but knew he couldn’t control the outcome.

“I live every day for every day,” Krumrie said. “I wake up, it’s daytime, it’s a good day.”

About Robert James

Check Also

Washington COs sign NFL Journeyman DB, waive injured LB Drew White: NFL Tracker

As the 2021 NFL season draws to a close, the offseason begins with tons of …