Vincent Jackson, former NFL wide receiver found dead in a hotel room in February, suffered stage 2 CTE, his family says
Former NFL receiver, who was found dead last February in a hotel room in Florida, suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative brain disease, known as CTE, his family announced Thursday. Dr Ann McKee, who directs the Boston University research center where his brain was examined, said in a statement that the 38-year-old had been diagnosed with stage 2 disease.
“Vincent Jackson was a brilliant, disciplined, gentle giant whose life began to change in his mid-30s,” McKee said in the statement. “He became depressed, with progressive memory loss, difficulty with problem solving, paranoia and ultimately extreme social isolation. That his brain showed stage 2 CTE should no longer surprise us; these findings became common.”
CTE, which can only be diagnosed by autopsy, has been found in former military personnel, footballers, boxers and others who have suffered repeated head injuries. A recent study found signs of the wasting disease in 110 of 111 NFL players whose brains were inspected.
In February, Hillsborough County, Florida sheriff’s officials said Jackson’s family initially reported him missing and that deputies found him at a hotel two days later, spoke to him and called off the missing persons case. Jackson was found dead a few days later. The New York Times reported Thursday that a cause of death has not been announced by the county medical examiner’s office.
Researchers from a brain bank founded by Boston University, the Concussion Legacy Foundation and the US Department of Veterans Affairs studied Jackson’s brain to determine the diagnosis. Jackson’s family released the findings to help raise awareness about CTE, according to the statement released by the foundation.
“Much remains to be understood about CTE, and education is the key to prevention,” Jackson’s widow, Lindsey Jackson, said in the statement. “The conversation around this topic needs to be more widespread, and our family hopes others will feel comfortable and supported when talking about the future of CTE.”
Vincent Jackson played for the San Diego Chargers for seven seasons before becoming a free agent due to a contract dispute. He then played five seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, making his final appearance in 2016. He recorded 57 touchdowns and was a three-time Pro Bowl selection.
The son of military parents, Jackson founded the Jackson In Action 83 Foundation, a nonprofit organization to support military families.
Jackson’s diagnosis comes days after an autopsy revealed a similar one for the former NFL playerwho authorities say killed six people in South Carolina before killing himself in April.
Discussing Adams’ diagnosis, McKee said that of 24 NFL players diagnosed with the disease after dying in their 20s and 30s, most had stage 2 CTE, like Adams. The disease has four stages, with stage 4 being the most severe and usually associated with dementia.
The second stage is associated with progressive cognitive and behavioral abnormalities such as aggression, impulsivity, explosiveness, depression, paranoia, anxiety, poor executive function and memory loss, McKee said.