HARRISBURG, Pa. - The family of local football star Adrian Robinson is speaking about about his posthumous diagnosis of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a brain disease linked to concussions. They're urging the NFL to make changes.
"He was our star, we loved him, he was an excellent young man, humble and very respectful," says his father, Adrian Robinson Sr. "But it's just important, if you see any symptoms with your children that you get that checked out."
The family learned this week that doctors at Boston University linked Robinson's May suicide to concussions he suffered while playing football. Robinson starred at Harrisburg High School and Temple, and played for several teams in the NFL, including the Pittsburgh Steelers.
His father says he noticed the linebacker showed signs aggression, and of being disoriented, and talked of light sensitivity and headaches.
"He had headaches, we were talking about that, we had dialogue but I had no way to believe that it was that serious, that his thoughts were where they were," says Robinson Sr.
Robinson had signed to play for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the Canadian Football League this spring, but was found dead in his Philadelphia apartment on May 16th. The medical examiner ruled Robinson had hanged himself.
"He had said to me not long before it happened, 'Yeah dad, it's going to be like playing in college again,'" says Robinson Sr. "He was really looking forward to playing football. So for that to happen, we just were all stunned."
The family's attorney says they would like to sit down with NFL officials and talk about the protocol for concussions in players, and the need to take them more seriously.
"Knowing that, starting to treat this as you would treat an ACL injury," says Robinson Sr. "We feel if we could save another parent from feeling what we feel right now, we feel as though Adrian's life wouldn't be as in vain."
The family's attorney says they may join one of the concussion-based class action lawsuits or file their own litigation in the future. Any settlement would go to Robinson's 1-year-old daughter.
"He has a new child which he loved his daughter, you couldn't see him without her," says his father. "He simply adored his daughter."