Lacey Leonard went the distance with her NFL husband and when things took a turn for the worst, they ended up divorce. Upon further research and the ultimate display of support, Leonard rekindled with her main squeeze and they remarried. “With God restoring our marriage, it allowed me to have empathy for what he was going through based on the counseling that we went through,” she says. “There are so many things that he had bottled up inside that I wasn’t privy to. It allowed me to want to be an advocate for him and an advocate for mental health awareness.”
Leonard recently sat down with rolling out to discuss her journey and overcoming the obstacles that come with CTE.
The assessments for health as it relates to Black Americans, and Black players, in particular, are not the same. How has this travesty created a problem and why does it exist?
CTE is very real. The NFL is aware they have Black players that have suffered from neurocognitive decline and have been diagnosed by board-certified neurologists nationwide.
The NFL still attempts to deny their Black players because they’re using race to define if the player meets the qualifications in stating that Black players are not cognitively slower than White players. It doesn’t make us feel right and it’s heartbreaking because my husband still holds the NFL as a badge of honor.
The NFL makes up 70% of Black men. Black players are increasing ticket sales and if we didn’t have them, the NFL wouldn’t be what it is today. My hope is that the owners of these teams will take a look at what’s really going on and make it right.
What is it that others can understand when seeing or meeting someone new, given the fact that he has been injured?
Going to the doctors with him, doing research, and trying to have a clear understanding of neurocognitive impairment, I began to see certain things in him that I began to notice, weren’t his normal personality.
He played his entire career hitting his head because he had two broken wrists. The memory loss, the irritability, impulsiveness, mood disorder, and the changes that I’ve witnessed in my husband was eye-opening. I didn’t understand for several years what he was going through.
The NFL acknowledged the racism. Does there need to be a class-action lawsuit?
As far as our case is concerned, we were denied again. They reversed our approval, and that’s where it stands today.
If the owners are listening, there’s power in using your voice. There are others that stand behind us that have also been denied and/or have not received their rightful benefits for their husbands who are struggling with depression, dementia, and Alzheimer’s.
This is a matter that needs to be fixed in the NFL. The NFL advocates the Black Lives Matter movement and George Floyd. Now it’s time for them to put money where their mouth is.
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