ATLANTA – Tim Green, a first-round draft pick who played eight seasons for the Atlanta Falcons before becoming a television commentator, best-selling author and lawyer, has announced that he has been diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly known as ALS.
Green has kicked off his fundraising efforts for ALS research by launching a website – www.TackleALS.com/teams/Atlanta-Falcons – and will tell his story to the world during an episode of "60 Minutes" that will air at 7 p.m. ET on Sunday night.
Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta United owner Arthur Blank will be matching up to $100,000 in donations to Green's Tackle ALS fund.
ALS, a disease which is also known as Lou Gehrig's disease – named after the former New York Yankees legend whose life was cut short by it – is a progressive neurodegenerative disease in which the breaking down of nerve cells eventually leads to the reduced functionality in the muscles they supply. As these areas degenerate, it leads to scarring or hardening – "sclerosis" – in the region.
According to ALSA.org, the disease "usually strikes people between the ages of 40 and 70, and it is estimated there are more than 20,000 Americans who have the disease at any given time."
Green, the 17th-overall pick of the Falcons in the 1986 NFL Draft, made the announcement that he has been battling ALS last Tuesday on his Facebook page.
"While the football field is far away, I find myself in a formidable struggle," Green wrote. "For the past five years I've been coping with some neurological problems in my hands. At first the doctors thought the damage I'd done to my elbows in football was the culprit, so they operated to release the nerves, but the issue persisted and my voice began to weaken as well. That's the only reason I've had to stop visiting schools to talk with kids. Finally, I was diagnosed with ALS. That's the bad news."
Green, who retired from football after the 1993 season, recorded 24 sacks and started 71 games during his career for the Falcons, also noted that there is "good news."
"Like many conditions, ALS has different forms," Green wrote. "While of course I'd rather not have it at all, I am extremely grateful that mine is a slow-progressing version of the disease."
A two-time All-American while playing at Syracuse University, Green's accomplishments and work stretched beyond the football field. He eventually earned his law degree, worked in television – including the shows "FOX NFL Sunday," "Good Morning America" and "A Current Affair."
Green is also a New York Times best-selling author. Green wrote about his football experience in "The Dark Side of the Game: My Life in the NFL" and then made a children's book about the game.