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Football Fulfills Dreams, Then Turns Into Nightmare for NFL Wife

As the wife of former NFL player, Grant Feasel, Cyndy’s life was full of fun, football, and fame. However, things began to take a tragic turn when he walked away from the game. Read Transcript

WENDY GRIFFITH: Skull-battering, jaw-shaking collisions.

That's what NFL center Grant Feasel absorbed

during his decade- long career.

It's also what led him to say, if I'd only

known what I loved the most would end up

killing me and taking away everything I loved,

I never would have done it.

Take a look.

NARRATOR: Cyndy Feasel was married to Grant, an NFL

lineman, for 29 years.

Grant was a loving husband and father,

but over time his behavior began to change.

Cyndy had no idea he was suffering from a brain

disease caused by numerous blows to the head

during his 10 year football career.

CYNDY FEASEL: He seemed to be more irritable.

He couldn't perform some of the basic tasks.

He was disorganized.

NARRATOR: In her book, "After The Cheering Stops," Cindy

raises awareness about the dangers of repetitive head

injuries, and shares what brought

her hope during the darkest times in her marriage.

Please give a warm welcome to Cyndy Feasel.

So good to have you here on the 700 Club, Cyndy.

Tell us about Grant.

You guys were married 29 years, and you guys

had some great years in the beginning.

What was it like in the early years?

Well, we met in college on a blind date.

And he was the tallest, most handsome man that I'd ever met.

He was smart.

And he loved to play the guitar.

He loved poetry.

Wow, a Renaissance man.

I know, that's what I said, a Renaissance man.

And he was everything that, I couldn't

imagine finding anybody else that

could be as great as he was.

And he was so smart.

He had a 4.0, he was accepted into every dental school

in Texas.

And he won every award there was to possibly win.

He was an academic All-American all of his years in football,

so he had a brilliant mind.

Cyndy, when did you first start noticing changes

in Grant's behavior?

Well, at the end of his career-- eight years, I guess,

before he retired-- he had a serious Staph infection.

Serious enough that the doctor said

if we don't get it under control,

he could actually lose his leg.

And also--

Did the Staph infection come from an injury on the field?

Yes, it came from an injury.

He had a knee surgery, and he got an infection from that.

So it was very, very serious.

And also, he had a port put in his heart

where antibiotic could be delivered straight to the chest


So it was very serious.

And it was a strong medicine that

finally ended up turning it around and making him better.

But still it was very, very, very serious.

And I remember him saying, I still want to play.

And it was scary to me, because that

had been such a huge injury.

When he was in the hospital, he

started taking painkillers, right?

Well, I'm sure that painkillers were part of it--

But it was the drinking.

He started drinking.

Yes, after this.

He started drinking some, and it was unusual behavior,

because he would bring alcohol in,

and then he would put it in a bag

and take it out and throw it in the dumpster.

So that was unusual.

And then there were little pills that came in along the way

too that he would say, I'm having trouble sleeping.

Which he did, he started having trouble sleeping

and just being comfortable.

And just the years of wear and tear, I think, on the body,

ended up causing him a lot of pain.

So there was the drinking, there was the hiding that,

but you were still kind of making excuses for him

and thinking, OK, things are going to get better.

But what was the low, when did it get really bad?

Well, you know, I kept thinking all along

he was going to come back.

The Grant that I knew in the beginning

was going to come back.

Because he was doing these unusual things.

And again, even after he retired,

when I was putting up clothes, I would find bottles

in the closet.

Which was unusual, again, just not normal.

And it was--

Because he was an athlete.


And he always took pride in his workout, and his body,

and so it was--

And you guys were both Christians.

Yes, we both came from Christian homes,

we met at a Christian college.

You were both Christians, so why didn't you seek help?

I know.

So that is my message.

Part of my message is, you need to tell someone.

It's very important for you-- when

you see changes going on-- you need to tell someone.

It wasn't until later on that I got into Christian counseling,

so I recommend that if you see that there's

changes going on in your marriage,

get into Christian counseling.

But you eventually did turn for support,

where did you find it?

I found it in Christian therapists,

which were wonderful, and then church support group.

So I say reach out to someone.

Of course God is always there, and I never lost my faith,

but you need a land line.

Did you both go to therapy?

We did for a while.

We did for a while together.

But then later, Cyndy, you discovered

that your husband had a serious brain injury,

and it's called CTE.

What does that stand for?

Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy.

It's really hard.

So we say CTE because it's easier.

But yes I didn't realize that that's what

he had until after he died.

And there was an autopsy done on him,

and then the report came back that he had stage three.

So there's four stages.

It was overwhelming to me when I started

looking at the evidence.

I got on the Mayo Clinic's website

and I looked at all the symptoms.

And as I was reading the symptoms,

I became more emotional, because I thought,

this has been the path that our life has taken.

I had started journaling about seven years prior.

And I started thinking of specific stories in my journals

that actually fit the CTE symptoms.

It was just stunning to me.

So, unfortunately, you guys did divorce, about a year--

Seven months prior.

And he died, seven months later.


I mean do you wish you just hung in there now?


I mean I hung in there for a long, long time.

The only peace that I have is that at the end

Grant and I did make amends.

Which, hallelujah.

He was in the hospital, and he knew he was dying,

and one day as I was walking out the door he said, hey Cyndy,

I just want to ask for your forgiveness for everything.


And that just brought so much healing to you,

after everything you'd been through,

because this was the man that you loved,

and you'd seen this disintegration.

But then you wrote this amazing book called

"After The Cheering Stops".

And what is the message that you want the readers to take home

from this?

Well, I want everyone to understand

that CTE is a serious disease.

And that it's affecting athletes of all ages.

It's not just people that have played in the NFL.

It's repetitive hits to the head causes brain trauma.

I want people to understand that.

I want mothers to understand that when

they're thinking about signing their five-year-old up

for football, please.

And I'm talking about all high impact sports.

Soccer, boxing, wrestling, any high impact sport

has brain issues.

And so please, please check into it.

How long has Grant been gone now?

Almost five years.

And it's still really, I'm sure it's still

seems like yesterday.

I cry every day just a little bit.

Well, God bless you, and thanks

so much for writing this.

This is going to help so many people, Cyndy.

I hope so.

I'm praying so.

Well, Cyndy's book again, it's called

"After The Cheering Stops", it's available

wherever books are sold.

You can also watch a behind the scenes interview

with Cyndy on our Facebook page.

You want to do that, just go to to check

that out.

Cyndy, great having you here.

God bless you

CYNDY FEASEL: Thank you, I appreciate it.


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