Ted Johnson is still outspoken on HGH and brain injuries. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)
SAN FRANCISCO — Ted Johnson has made a name for himself after winning three Super Bowls with the Patriots by being outspoken.
He’s at it again.
Speaking to WEEI.com Friday, two days before Super Bowl 50, the linebacker-turned-Houston sportsradio host said that Peyton Manning shouldn’t be dealing with allegations of HGH use, in part because he thinks it should be legal.
“I’m a proponent of HGH,” Johnson said. “I think HGH should be allowed and maybe be regulated. It helps guys recover. There’s so many good things in being able to use HGH for guys that play football because your bodies just get beat up. Now, it’s got to be used within reason and regulated. I don’t have a problem with it. I think it’s much to do about nothing.
“I feel bad that he has to deal with that distraction but I’m a proponent of it. Used carefully and regulated, I don’t have a problem with HGH.”
Johnson said he is doing very well for himself now after some very dark days following his football career, which ended after winning his third Super Bowl in Jan. 2005 in Jacksonville.
Johnson told the New York Times in 2007 that he suffers from amphetamine addiction, depression and headaches related to post-concussion syndrome and Second Impact Syndrome. He then suggested Bill Belichick pressured him to participate in full contact practice drills three days after suffering a concussion in an exhibition game against the Giants in Aug. 2002.
Johnson said during those drills, he suffered a second concussion, and that Belichick asked him to participate against the advice of the team’s head trainer. Belichick denied those allegations. Johnson told WEEI’s Dennis and Callahan that he was only joking when he said he’d consider returning to football in 2006 after Junior Seau was injured. Those five years were an emotional roller coaster for Johnson, a ride he admitted again Friday involved Adderall and cocaine.
“A lot of people know my story. I sought out drugs to feel better,” Johnson recounted. “I was having headaches. Cognitively, I wasn’t firing on all cylinders. Behaviorally, I was changing, depression. You have a lot of impulse issues. And so, I sought out drugs to feel better. And the first drug was Adderall. It made me feel better. It was not prescribed for what I was feeling because it’s not a medication used to treat that. But I started using that. It made me feel better. Cognitively, I was sharper. It just cleared things up. My headaches went away.
“But when I started abusing that and going to four doctors and lying to all of them, and going through my scripts within a few days, when I couldn’t get that, you go to the street equivalent, which was cocaine. So, I had to deal with that for years, the cocaine addiction. I’ve put that behind. I’m doing much, much better and I’m in a business down in Houston, in sportstalk radio where I’m challenging myself cognitively every single day. I’m on the radio for five hours. That’s the one thing you have to do. It’s like exercise for the brain. It’s really good that I”m in that profession. It’s really hard but it’s also going to benefit me in the long run because of the cognitive exercise I get on a daily basis.”
Now Johnson, at the Super Bowl this week doing his show and promoting the brain-injury scan Cerescan, is trying to get the word out about what can be done to prevent others from traveling down the same path.
“A lot of this stuff, when it comes to brain disorders or brain trauma-related injuries, we need to find out answers in how to best see what’s going in the brain, where the brain, where the problems are,” Johnson said. “CT scans and MRIs are technologies used to take pictures of the brain. But it’s like taking a picture of a frame of a house. It only tells part of the picture. Whereas the technology that Cerescan uses, it’s like taking a picture of the house and it’s plumbing. So you see where the blood-flow is, where the blood-flow isn’t, what region of the brain the blood is getting to and where it’s not and so you can make a diagnosis because of the imaging and go treat it now.
“It’s a more treatable disorder and you can treat it better because the diagnosis is clearer from the imaging you get from Cerescan. It’s the next-level brain imaging.”