SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Bill Romanowski sustained 20 documented concussions, and certainly more he doesn’t know about, during his 16-year NFL career as a linebacker. He was hardly surprised to learn this week that late Raiders quarterback and Hall of Fame finalist Ken Stabler had been diagnosed with the brain disease CTE.
‘‘I pretty much assumed that was the case. More and more I realize that pretty much all of us football players who have had a lot of collisions probably have CTE,’’ Romanowski told The Associated Press on Friday. ‘‘That’s a reality. And now, it’s what do we do with that? We can be like some players and maybe be in denial or we can take the bull by the horns and go after it. That’s what I do.’’
Boston University researchers said Wednesday that Stabler had Stage 3 chronic traumatic encephalopathy and the disease was widespread throughout his brain. Stabler died of colon cancer in July at age 69.
Romanowski, now 49, has taken numerous proactive steps he hopes will help him combat any potential issues. That included two stints of 40 treatments in a hyperbaric chamber. The Mayo Clinic says hyperbaric oxygen therapy — the breathing of pure oxygen in a pressurized room or tube — is a therapy used for ‘‘serious infections, bubbles of air in your blood vessels, and wounds that won’t heal as a result of diabetes or radiation injury.’’
He still goes in the hyperbaric chamber once a month and expects to do so the rest of his life. Romanowski also takes what he calls a ‘‘brain focus product’’ and turmeric, drinks two gallons of water a day, takes ‘‘massive amounts of enzymes’’ and exercises daily. He also gets vitamin and mineral IVs.
‘‘I feel like I’m doing almost everything I can,’’ he said. ‘‘So, now, CTE, how does it affect a healthy brain? I try to do whatever I can do. I don’t know if there’s anybody in the country that is taking care of themselves the way I am. So, if I start noticing a decline in certain areas, well, guess what? I will search out more experts in the brain and take it upon myself to get more aggressive in my treatment.’’
Romanowski attended a private screening of the ‘‘Concussion’’ movie in mid-December in nearby Redwood City and said it was difficult to watch.