Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a terrible disease, not that any disease is any better or worse than the others, but I have personally watched people I know who have battled ALS and ultimately lost that battle. ALS robs the individual of all motor activity, while their mind remains sharp and alert. Ultimately, those with the disease lose the ability to eat and breath.
A year ago, Jenks High School football coach Allan Trimble announced he had been diagnosed with ALS and was entering the fight with faith and determination.
Last week, University of Tulsa Hall of Fame football player Tony Liscio succumbed to ALS, he was 76. Liscio, a former lineman for the Golden Hurricane, was inducted in the TU Athletic Hall of Fame in 2004.
A Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania native, Liscio was a three-year letter-winner and two-way starting tackle at Tulsa. He was selected to the first-team all-Missouri Valley Conference as a senior and played in the College All-Star game against the NFL.
Liscio was drafted by the Green Bay Packers with the 42nd overall pick in 1963, but he was released before the season began, and signed with the Dallas Cowboys.
His primary job during his years with the Cowboys was protecting star quarterbacks Don Meredith and Roger Staubach.
In May 1971, Liscio was traded from the Cowboys to the San Diego Chargers, however, injuries kept him from playing with the Chargers. Then on September 8, 1971, Liscio was traded to the Miami Dolphins, but he never played for the Dolphins as he announced his retirement rather report to the team.
Two months later, Cowboys head coach Tom Landry talked Liscio into coming back to the team. The Cowboys needed him to replace tackle Ralph Neely who broke a leg in a motorcycle accident and his back up, Don Talbert, sprained an ankle. In his eight starts after rejoining the team, Liscio didn’t allow a single sack as the Cowboys went undefeated the rest of the season and won Super Bowl VI.
Following the Super Bowl win, Liscio retired from football for good and devoted his life to commercial real estate. He suffered a heart attack while visiting the Cowboys training camp in 2012.
Liscio was diagnosed with ALS last summer after he fell and broke his hip, and began slurring his words. In the past year, he lost his ability to speak and required a feeding tube, according to his wife Annette, who was with him when he passed peacefully. The couple had been married 54 years, and lived in the Lake Highlands suburb of Dallas. They have three children and seven grandchildren.
Liscio’s family believes ALS may have been the result of playing football and his brain was donated to be tested for chronic traumatic encephalopathy.