The Steeler’s All-Pro Mike Webster played many years after me, but Ralph Wenzel (the lesser known Steeler poster player for CTE) was the Steeler back-up guard in my playing days. Ralph died in 2012 from CTE complications, I’ve created a painting in his memory and honor entitled, Tilt–Game Over.

From a frontal perspective, the shapes in between the right and left portions of the brain (and “dead” center), greatly enlarge themselves with the growth of CTE. I immediately liken those shapes to the wings of a moth and/or butterfly. How these shapes are combined with other aspects in the painting, I believe, gives the painting the power to communicate well beyond a mere X-ray.

Take for example the image of the death’s head hawk moth (barrowed from the movie, The Silence of the Lambs). I specifically choose to interject this image into the painting because it communicates a non-verbal response (deaf before death) to dire circumstances. As Christ went to His death almost in total silence (Isaiah 53:7), so also do certain football players, stricken with CTE, go silently into the night way before their natural shelf life expires.

The skull portion of the moth (not rendered photo-realistically in my painting), again from The Silence of the Lambs, is a composite of a group of naked ladies attributed to the photograph of Salvador Dali and Philippe Halsman entitled “In Voluptas Mors.” It’s suggested that this title might be translated, ”In pleasure, there is death.” My take–in the pleasure of playing football looms the unanticipated (not necessarily today) acceleration into mindless matter–CTE.

Most people attribute the transformation of the ugly moth (Hannibal Lecter) into the butterfly (his apparent reformed goal) as the title connection to the movie. That the death-head moth is placed directly over Jody Foster’s mouth in the movie posters I haven’t quite figured out yet. I’d best stop here before I speculate into ignorance.