Today on Outside the Lines the daughter of former Detroit Lions star Mel Farr discussed her father’s diagnosis of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).
The news came out when OTL was reporting on the Farr family’s football history as part of its primetime special OTL: Football Forever? (Saturday, Feb. 4, 10:15 p.m. ET, ESPN).
“As we were reporting our story, producer Pia Malbran learned from the family that Mel Farr Sr. had struggled with memory loss the last couple of years of his life,” said coordinating producer Tim Hays. “When Farr died suddenly of a heart attack in August of 2015 at age 70, the family decided to have his brain tested for CTE. The tests came back positive, but the family has never released that information publicly until now.”
Farr’s daughter Monet Bartell and son Mike Farr agreed to appear on Outside the Lines today with host Bob Ley to discuss the news about their father. “My daddy was suffering and he suffered in silence,” Bartell tells Outside the Lines. “Football players are these big macho guys they’re not going to tell you they are hurting. I hurt not knowing how my daddy suffered and what he was dealing with.”
“What happened to Mel Farr is a sad story, and it actually makes the family’s loyalty to the game that much more fascinating. Both of Farr’s sons, Mike and Mel Jr., who also played in the NFL, are now experiencing similar symptoms,” said Hays. “Despite the fact that years of repeated blows to the head may have impacted the brain function of all three of them, our story reveals that Monet and her two brothers are still passionately encouraging her 10-year-old son Parker to play football.”
The Mel Farr piece is just one of seven stories that will be featured in Outside the Lines: Football Forever?. The special explores what football means to America and examines how it intersects with everyday life in communities all over the country.
“One of our jobs on Outside the Lines is not only to hold people accountable and to seek the truth but also to reflect reality, so we asked our producers to find stories about people dealing with real issues and determine what role football plays in their lives,” Hays said. “What we discovered is, despite the increased concern about health and safety, football still has great meaning in many segments of our society and in several of the towns and cities we visited, the game plays a fundamental role in bringing people together.”