Greg and Deb Ploetz came to state hoping marijuana oil could fight CTE
On Dec. 11, Deb Ploetz took the phone call from doctors and an administrator at the Concussion Legacy Foundation at Boston University.
She was told that an autopsy of her husband’s brain had determined that Greg Ploetz, who spent part of his youth in Colorado Springs before he started at defensive tackle for the Texas Longhorns’ 1969 national champions, suffered from Stage 4 of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE).That’s the most severe, most advanced stage, considered to cause full-blown dementia. CTE is believed to be caused by repeated head trauma and because Ploetz played football since he was 10 years old, doctors told Deb they were confident the sport caused his brain injuries.
The news came seven months after Greg, 66, died in a Little Rock, Ark., hospice.
It provided additional explanations for Deb, who brought Greg to the Denver area in spring 2014 to be able to use marijuana oils and extracts in treatment of what then was diagnosed as frontal lobe damage and mixed dementia.
“It gave me closure in confirmation of what I thought he had,” Deb said from Dallas. “The CTE was foremost, all through his brain. He was miserable.”
Ploetz’s father, Frederick, was a decorated fighter pilot in World War II and a career Air Force man stationed in Colorado Springs when Greg played Young American League football there. Greg was about to enter Wasson High School when his father was transferred to Perrin Air Force Base in Sherman, Texas, and that’s where Greg attended high school and caught the attention of the Texas coaching staff.
“I was recruited by practically all the Southwest Conference,” Ploetz said in 2001. He said he visited most of the league schools and brought up a specific trip to Oklahoma. He couldn’t identify the assistant coach who recruited him — “the one who ran the Cowboys for a while” — until being prompted. “Switzer, Barry Switzer,” he said before chuckling and adding, “Names are something that are starting to escape me now.”
That seemed an innocent exchange at the time.
At Texas, Ploetz was listed at 5-foot-10 and 205 pounds. He started out as a linebacker before being shifted to defensive tackle as a junior. He played in the 1969 Texas-Arkansas showdown for the national title with a cracked bone in his ankle, and his toughness never was in doubt. Away from the field, though, he was a fine-arts major and was selected UT’s top art student.