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Report: Ex-Pitt star Dorsett has signs of neurological disorder

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Hall of Fame football player Tony Dorsett is interviewed Jan. 25, 2012, in his home in suburban Dallas.

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Pro Football Hall of Famer Tony Dorsett, recognized as the greatest running back in Pitt history, has been diagnosed with signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative condition believed to be caused by head trauma and linked to depression and dementia, doctors have told ESPN's “Outside the Lines.”

Nonetheless, Dorsett, 59, said he plans to attend Pitt's game Saturday night at Heinz Field against Notre Dame with former teammates Randy Holloway and Al Romano. All three played on Pitt's 1976 national championship team.

Dorsett, who won the Heisman Trophy in '76, and former NFL stars Joe DeLamielleure and Leonard Marshall and another unidentified player underwent brain scans and clinical evaluations over the past three months at UCLA, ESPN reported.

Researchers told “Outside the Lines” they notified Dorsett by telephone Monday that they had diagnosed him as having signs of the neurological disease. Dorsett, in an appearance Wednesday on ESPN, acknowledged he had been tested at UCLA and received results.

“I'm not going to say too much more about it. ... I'm trying to be proactive rather than reactive,” he said.

Dorsett described to “Outside the Lines” the symptoms that led him to seek testing: memory loss, depression and thoughts of suicide.

Dorsett, who played at Hopewell High School, is Pitt's all-time leading rusher with 6,526 yards and is eighth all-time in the NFL with 12,739 yards rushing.

He told ESPN that he gets lost when he drives his two daughters to their soccer and volleyball games and he is prone to emotional outbursts.

Jerry DiPaola is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at jdipaola@tribweb.com or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.

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