- Frank Gifford played for ten seasons in the NFL and won a title with the Giants
- Kathie Lee and Cody have fought for CTE-awareness since Gifford’s death
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Kathie Lee and Cody Gifford, widow and son of Frank Gifford, have lifted the lid on how chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) impacted the late NFL legend before his death in 2015.
In an interview with People, Kathie Lee and Cody revealed how the player-turned-broadcaster’s memory worsened as he battled the brain disorder which has affected so many ex-football players.
‘The NFL gave my father a life,’ Cody said. ‘But at the same time, there were dangers.’
On one of his last nights with his father, Cody recalled that ‘in the span of one or two minutes, he had forgotten everything I had just said.’
‘He had been dealing with old age stuff,’ Kathie Lee described in an earlier interview. ‘Like losing your car keys, putting them in the microwave.’
Frank Gifford’s son and widow opened up about his short-term memory loss before his death
Gifford played 10 seasons in the NFL with the New York Giants before working as a broadcaster
The family began noticing the issues in the years leading up to Frank’s death at the age of 84. Kathie Lee insists she has not been the same since seeing Frank’s brain scan. She said Frank had stage four CTE, the most severe.
‘It was heartbreaking to look at it,’ Kathie Lee said. ‘We found damage to the hippocampus, which is the center for short-term memory…it’s the cumulative aggregate blows that you take over a lifetime.’
Gifford played as a halfback, wide receiver and defensive back for the New York Giants in ten seasons in the NFL. Over his career, Gifford won an NFL title and made eight Pro Bowl appearances.
After hanging up his cleats, Gifford took his talents to the broadcast booth, working as a play-by-play commentator for CBS Sports’ football, golf, and basketball coverage.
Gifford’s family are lending their support to a 2017 documentary entitled ‘Requiem for a Running Back’ which explores the effects of CTE.
‘I just let out a big sigh,’ Cody recalls upon seeing the documentary. ‘It struck me all the similarities these guys have gone through.’
Gifford married Kathie Lee in October 1986, the two were happily married for nearly 30 years
Cody has since approached the documentary’s director and funded its first-ever commercial release. The film will be available on Amazon, YouTube and iTunes on December 1.
Both Cody and Kathie Lee are committed to spreading awareness about CTE and hope that there will soon be treatment for the condition.
‘Nobody would care more about people and kids being hurt than Frank would have,’ Kathie Lee said.