Helmet-to-helmet hits in the NFL is deadly and has been linked to a brain disease called chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). CTE is a progressive degenerative disease of the brain found in athletes (and others) with a history of repetitive brain trauma, including symptomatic concussions as well as asymptomatic subconcussive hits to the head.
Many players in the NFL, past and present, have a history with concussions, with the 2015 football season having the highest number of players diagnosed with concussions (271 players). Quite a number of players has been found to have CTE as well.
One of them is Aaron Hernandez. The former New England Patriots tight end, who committed suicide in jail, was found to have third stage CTE. According to the New York Times, Hernandez’s lawyer claims researchers who found out about the CTE said it was “the most severe case they had ever seen in someone of Aaron’s age.” Hernandez is one of the youngest NFL players to have CTE. Hernandez only played in 87 games in his football career (college games included).
Hernandez’s brain was examined by Dr. Ann McKee, director of the CTE Center at Boston University. Dr. Ann McKee said his brain was so different.
“It was different than any brain I had ever seen. I mean, I’ve been doing this for 20-odd years, almost 30 years, and this brain was so different,” she told PBS.
Hernandez suffered CTE at an early age. The stage of Hernandez’s CTE is seen in players within the 65-69 age range, according to the New York Times.
“Jose Baez, Hernandez’s lawyer, said Hernandez’s brain showed a level of damage that was seen in players with a median age of 67 years.”
Baez informed the NFL that Hernandez’s family will sue the Patriots and the league. Baez is suing them because they are aware that the Patriots and the league were “fully aware of the damage.” Hernandez’s lawyer hasn’t ruled out on suing the University of Florida.
The family’s $20 million lawsuit was filed in federal court in Boston on Thursday, according to ESPN.
“The $20 million lawsuit, which seeks a jury trial, was filed in federal court in Boston on Thursday and claims that the team and league deprived Avielle Hernandez of the companionship of her father.”
Former Chicago Bears DB Dave Duerson, 50, committed suicide with a gunshot wound to the chest rather than his head, wanting to preserve his brain so it can be researched for concussions and hits to the head that may have led to CTE. Boston University researchers found CTE in Duerson’s brain, according to the NFL website.
[Featured Image by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images]