Unintended Impact

After suffering concussions in high school and college, Dick struggled unknowingly with the onset of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) dementia. For decades, he fought the demons trapping him in an ever-shrinking world: diminished short-term memory, limited executive functioning, interpersonal shortcomings, paranoia, and failed physical capabilities. As an athlete, he was revered, yet success turned traitor as getting his “bell rung” in football led to a world of confusion and confinement.

Nobody will remember a backup college quarterback, but Dick’s story bridges the glamour of NFL football—its high-profile athletes and the preliminary $765 million settlement for CTE dementia—with the harsh reality that millions of former amateur players may be suffering anonymously with the same concussion-induced devastation of CTE dementia.

The author talks about his brother, Dick.

Praise for Unintended Impact

“The heartbreaking story of Dick Proebstle underlines the importance of protecting our young athletes’ most vital strength – their minds.  As our knowledge of these injuries develops, we as coaches, parents, teachers, administrators and fans must remember this story as we work toward creating safer competition in the sports that are such an important part of our culture.”

—Lou Anna K. Simon, Ph.D.
President, Michigan State University


“Jim Proebstle bravely chronicles his brother’s decent into dementia from football-related brain damage from the loving perspective only a brother can provide. This insight into the dark side of contact sports is critical as we make decisions about what to do with our next generation of athletes.”

—Chris Nowinski
Co-founder and Executive Director of Sports Legacy Institute
Author of Head Games: the Global Concussion Crisis


“Dick Proebstle; my friend, my teammate, my competition.  We competed for the Michigan State quarterback position in 1963.  Dick’s work ethic, dedication and skills caused me to work harder than I ever thought possible.  For that I am eternally grateful.  By the 1964 season Dick was no longer able to compete do to medical reasons. Jim’s research and story are an indication of the love and caring between brothers.”

—Steve Juday
MSU All-American quarterback, 1965


“Others have told stories of athletes suffering from CTE, but Jim Proebstle’s account is unlike any other, as it is the first from inside the immediate family. It’s touching and gut-wrenching.”

—Tom Shanahan
Award winning sportswriter
Author of Raye of Light


“This is a brilliant, first-person account about the risks of concussions in sports.  Proebstle’s story is touching and informative; recounting his brother’s death from CTE dementia along with medical information that today’s athletes need to understand.”

—Bob Bao
Author and retired editor for the MSU Alumni Magazine


Unintended Impact is story of compassion and courage that I appreciate from the bottom of my heart having started boxing at age nine and played football from age 10 to 30. As a chiropractic doctor of thirty-five years specializing in adverse mechanical tension in the central nervous system I’m very aware of the psychological and emotional components of concussions and head trauma to the central nervous system.”

—Clinton Jones, D.C.
NFL (1967-1974)
Michigan State Hall of Fame (2012)
National College Hall of Fame (2015)


“Proebstle has written a haunting study of the tragic outcome of concussions in amateur football. His brother, Dick, suffered a number of concussions playing high school and college football. Proebstle shows that it isn’t always the NFL stars who suffer the devastating fate of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy.  Jim’s powerful narrative of his brother’s devastation with CTE dementia in Unintended Impact is a lesson for all of us.”

—Jeff Davis
Author: PAPA BEAR, the Life and Legacy of George Halas, and
ROZELLE, Czar of the NFL