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Family says former NFL player found dead in hotel had CTE

A former NFL wide receiver who was found dead in a hotel room in February suffered from a chronic degenerative brain disease linked to repeated head trauma and concussions.

Vincent Jackson, who played with the San Diego Chargers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, had stage 2 chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), according to an autopsy performed by the VA-BU-CLF Brain Bank in Boston, cited in a Thursday press release from the former athlete’s family.

The news follows the recent CTE diagnosis of Phillip Adams, who is alleged to have shot and killed six people before killing himself on April 7 in Rock Hall, S.C.

CTE can only be detected in an autopsy. While stage 2 CTE is considered severe, causing symptoms such as suicidal ideation, anxiety and memory loss, the disorder can reach as far as stage 4 and cause dementia.

Ann McKee, the director of the Brain Bank who performed the autopsy on both Adams and Jackson, said CTE has become a “commonplace” diagnosis for football players who dies in their 20s or 30s.

She called on the NFL and other football associations to do more to prevent the degenerative brain disease.

“Vincent Jackson was a brilliant, disciplined, gentle giant whose life began to change in his mid-30s. He became depressed, with progressive memory loss, problem solving difficulties, paranoia, and eventually extreme social isolation,” she said in a statement. “What is surprising is that so many football players have died with CTE and so little is being done to make football, at all levels, safer by limiting the number of repetitive subconcussive hits.”

Jackson, 38, was found dead in his hotel room at the Homewood Suites in Brandon, Fla., on Feb. 15. An autopsy report on the manner of his death has not been released yet.

In a statement, his family pressed for more research and discussion about CTE considering it may have contributed to Jackson’s death.

“Vincent dedicated so much of his life to helping others. Even in his passing, I know he would want to continue that same legacy,” said Lindsey Jackson, his widow. “The conversation around this topic needs to be more prevalent, and our family hopes that others will feel comfortable and supported when talking about CTE moving forward.”

Jackson first started playing football at 12 years old. He then played in college for the University of Northern Colorado before he was drafted by the Chargers in 2005. He joined the Buccaneers in 2012 and retired in 2018.

Research has shown the risk of developing CTE doubles after just three years of playing football, according to a Boston University study, while another study showed 99 percent of 202 deceased football players had CTE.

McKee, who has diagnosed more than 700 football players with CTE, emphasized that degenerative brain diseases among football players will not just go away.

“CTE will not disappear by ignoring it, we need to actively address the risk that football poses to brain health and to support the players who are struggling,” she said.

Tags Aaron Hernandez Ann McKee Boston Football Massachussets NFL Phillip Adams Tampa Bay Buccaneers Vincent Jackson

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