PITTSBURGH — Longtime Pittsburgh Steelers offensive lineman and radio broadcaster Tunch Ilkin has been diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease.
The 63-year-old Ilkin, a two-time Pro Bowler who played 13 of his 14 NFL seasons in Pittsburgh during a career that ran from 1980-93 and has served as an analyst on the team's radio broadcasts since 1998, made the announcement in a video posted on Friday.
ALS is a “progressive nervous system disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord” according to the Mayo Clinic. Ilkin, who was born in Turkey before his parents moved to the U.S. when he was a toddler, did not disclose when he was diagnosed but noted the diagnosis was confirmed by the Cleveland Clinic.
Ilkin said he is currently taking medication and has some difficulty in the morning but added he gets stronger as the day goes on. He continues to lift weights four times a week in addition to daily hour-long walks and 30-minute trampoline workouts. There are no current plans for him to shift his duties on the team's radio broadcast, where he currently serves as a colour analyst.
A devout Christian, Ilkin said he plans to attack his treatment aggressively.
“I want to fight this thing with the help of… God,” Ilkin said. “I’m not going to lie down and take this lightly.”
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The Associated Press