By Art Holliday
ST. LOUIS (KSDK) - Former NFL running back Curtis Brown has an interesting distinction: he replaced O.J. Simpson in the Buffalo Bills backfield after Simpson was traded in 1978.
"I was a fullback and then O.J. Simpson went to San Francisco and then I was a halfback," he said.
On the same day that the NFL settled a massive concussion lawsuit for $765 million dollars, I caught up with my former St. Charles High School teammate at Barnes Jewish Hospital where he was undergoing a battery of tests related to early stage dementia.
"His conversation was the same over and over again," Brown's mother, Marian Baker, said. During several hours of tests, Baker kept her son company and helped his sign hospital documents.
"I got four concussions and when I was in New England, all I had was strobe lights," Brown said, describing the light show brought on by another football concussion."
Brown's neurologist is Dr. David Brady.
"We really think of the reported concussions like the four that Mr. Brown reported, as potentially the tip of an iceberg," Dr. Brady said. "There might be a lot under the surface that we don't know about."
Brown was an all-state running back at St. Charles High School. In 1976 at Mizzou, Brown starred in the Tigers road upsets against Southern Cal and Ohio State. Both teams were ranked in the top 10. Former Mizzou quarterback Pete Woods remembers Brown's dazzling performance against USC.
"Well, USC was a game for the ages. He returned a kickoff for a touchdown as I recall. Had a punt return for a touchdown. Caught a screen pass from Steve Pizarkiewicz for a touchdown. He was the player of the game," Woods said.
Drafted in the third round by the Buffalo Bills, Brown played six seasons in the National Football League. From little league football in St. Charles to the National Football League, 27 years of football can take a heavy toll. At Barnes Jewish Hospital, doctors continue the detective work of figuring out what's wrong with Brown, including blood work and an MRI of his brain.
"There may be some things that are troubling to him that we can fix, that we can help reverse," Dr. Brody said, "and then there may be other things that we can't do anything about, but we can educate him, and educate his family more importantly, and help them understand and deal with it."
It was a stressful day at the hospital for Brown's mother Marian Baker, who worries about her son's uncertain future.
"It's hard to get him to talk when he gets upset. And he won't be able to live alone much longer," she said.
Would Brown do anything differently?
"I'd live my life the same," he said.
His mother feels much differently about the game that may have damaged her son's brain.
"If I had it to do all over again, my child would go into a different sport because I just don't feel the same about even watching the game," she said.