By Ken Reed

Former Atlanta Falcons safety Ray Easterling killed himself in April. Late last month his widow, and the rest of us, learned that there were clear signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in his brain, a progressive brain disease linked directly to repetitive blows to the head.

“It was consistent with what my expectations were,” said Dr. Gregory O’Shanick, Easterling’s neurologist. “Without question, the only time you see this is with multiple concussions.”

Mary Ann Easterling had to deal with her husband’s deteriorating condition for years. Ray Easterling, 62 when he shot himself, began suffering from dementia and depression only a decade into his retirement from the NFL.

The autopsy report, while not surprising to Easterling’s wife, was still impactful.

“The extent of the damage to his brain made me very sad,” said Easterline. “It amazed me to think about what he dealt with every day inside his head. It left me a little speechless.”

The NFL is being sued by more than 3,000 retired players, or their relatives, in a class-action lawsuit against the league based on how the NFL has dealt with concussions and head trauma through the years.

That lawsuit, and recent research on brain trauma, has spurred the NFL to make changes in their safety procedures, in particular relating to head trauma. That’s all well and good — especially for today’s players — but it won’t help the thousands of former players who are struggling mightily with the repercussions of having given their bodies and minds to a league that historically has been more interested in wins and profits than the wellbeing of its employees on the field.

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans


Comments are closed.

Set your Twitter account name in your settings to use the TwitterBar Section.