May 2019 saw Matthew Onyshko in his wheelchair at the front of a Washington County, Pa., courtroom, face to face with an attorney representing the NCAA. The Ukrainian was a football player for Division II California University of Pennsylvania from 1999 to 2003.
After graduating, he became a fireman in his hometown of Pittsburgh. On a November 2007 day while fighting a fire, he had difficulty putting on his gloves, becoming aware his hands were losing strength. The father of two was diagnosed a couple of months later with the degenerative brain disease ALS. After viewing a report about former New Orleans Saints Steve Gleason’s experience with ALS on Super Bowl Sunday of 2012, Onyshko questioned whether the head injuries he’d suffered playing football were the cause of his condition. His personal physicians agreed with him, concluding he had no genetic precondition for the disease.