By Ken Reed

Boston University’s CTE Center has reported finding Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) in the brains of 345 of the 376 (91.7%) former NFL players they have studied to date.

CTE can only be diagnosed after the victims have died. Families that donate the brains of their loved ones to the CTE Center suspect CTE might have played a role in the symptoms their family member was dealing with before his/her passing. As such, there are selection biases associated with the CTE Center’s brain bank and the results of their study can’t be extrapolated to current and former NFL players. Nevertheless, researchers at the CTE Center say the high incidence of CTE in former NFL players is dramatically greater than the rate of CTE in the general public. For example, a 2018 study of brains donated to the Framingham Heart Study detected only one case of CTE out of 164 brain samples examined. And, of note, that single case of CTE was a former college football player.

The scientists at the CTE Center say “repetitive head impacts” are believed to be the top risk factor for the degenerative brain disease CTE. Hence, the high number of former football players diagnosed with the disease.

DeMaryius Thomas, a star wide receiver on the Denver Broncos 2015-2016 Super Bowl Champions was posthumously diagnosed with CTE last year. Thomas suffered from paranoia and erratic behavior during his final years, according to his parents.

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans


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