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MX News Update 2024


What Is CTE and Most Famous CTE Cases in NFL? Explored

Trigger Warning: This article contains reference to suicide, death and murder.

With all that fun and excitement, football also comes with a lot of injuries and several players have suffered career-ending trauma in many instances. While it costs fans some ticketing price to witness a game, players pay a much higher price; probably their health. They are often exposed to serious contact during play, one of which is the blow to the head which sometimes results in serious brain damage.

American football players who go through multiple injuries to their brain have higher risks of getting diagnosed with Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy or CTE. Now that we have mentioned it, what does this mean, and how many players have suffered from this deadly neurodegenerative disease? Let’s have a look.

What is Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE)?

A report in Time Magazine, from 2024 stated that researchers have discovered several cases of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) in football players at a higher rate. It is a degenerative disease in the brain, a repeated trauma or head injury that can be identified by confusion, loss of memory, violence, suicidal thoughts, etc; as per the footballer’s autopsy reports.

It is different from concussions, which is a mild or moderate injury to the brain. It can impair or interfere with your brain functions as the symptoms appear quite early unlike in CTE as the symptoms for this may not be identified for months or even years. Repeated concussions can cause CTE.

A look at the most famous cases of CTE in American football

According to a report from 2023 by The Boston University CTE Center, out of 376 former NFL players, 345 were diagnosed with Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy which is 91.7 percent. That’s how much the players risk their lives for the game and the fans.

Meanwhile, the report also suggests that the exact percentage of the number of players diagnosed with CTE, or how common it is among NFL players cannot be known since the conclusive diagnosis of the disease is determined only after the death of the players who have donated their brains for study.

This was the first case when the fatal disease was discovered. The former player passed away at 50 following a heart attack. The four-time Super Bowl winner nicknamed Iron Man had his autopsy report in which CTE was mentioned for the very first time in 2002, in a journal of neurosurgery.

Former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez was found hanging in his bedsheets in the Shirley, Massachusetts’ prison on April 19, 2017, who was later found not guilty of the homicide. It was later discovered that he suffered from CTE in a scan performed by the Boston University Center’s researcher Ann McKee, PhD. The player who played three seasons for the Patriots was convicted of the murder of semi-professional American football player Odin Leonardo John Lloyd.

The legendary NFL star who spent his career years for franchises like the Oakland Raiders, the Minnesota Vikings, the Houston Oilers, and the New Orleans Saints, suffered from severe headaches as per Kim Bush, before he passed away of cancer aged 69. It was revealed by the Boston University CTE Center that the 1974 NFL MVP and 1977 Super Bowl winner was diagnosed with the deadly disease.

Around eight months after Junior Seau died of suicide, at 43, it was revealed that the former linebacker had suffered CTE. The former San Diego Chargers’ ex-wife Gina and son Tyler were the ones to reveal the sad news in addition to asking people to help players suffering from anything like this.

Andre Waters’ suicide case has been a mystery. Nevertheless, according to neuropathologist Dr. Bennet Omalu of the University of Pittsburg, after examining his brain, they found out that the damage to his brain led to depression and ultimate death, reported The New York Times.

Frank Gifford died at 84 of natural causes, his CTE report was severe; at stage 4 on a scale of 1 to 4, with 4 being the most severe as reported by Kathie Lee. Furthermore, damage to the hippocampus was found in the Hall of Famer. The announcement of the diagnosis was announced by his family.

List of players suffered from CTE

This is the confirmed list of players to have suffered from CTE

  • Ray Abruzzese
  • Phillip Adams
  • George Andrie
  • Rick Arrington
  • Dave Behrman
  • Jovan Belcher
  • Al Bemiller
  • Wes Bender
  • Jeff Blackshear
  • Forest Blue
  • Dorian Boose
  • Daniel Brabham
  • Colt Brennan
  • Curtis Brown
  • Nick Buoniconti
  • Lew Carpenter
  • Howard Carson
  • Howard ‘Hopalong’ Cassady
  • Ronnie Caveness
  • Greg Clark
  • Daniel Colchico
  • Paul Crane
  • Lou Creekmur
  • Chuck Crist
  • Irv Cross
  • Doug Cunningham
  • Art DeCarlo
  • Willie Daniel
  • George Darrah
  • Fred Dean
  • Tom DeLeone
  • Shane Dronett
  • Dave Duerson
  • Pete Duranko
  • Ray Easterling
  • Chris Eitzmann
  • Kevin Ellison
  • James Evans
  • Mel Farr
  • Grant Feasel
  • Gene Felker
  • Cullen Finnerty
  • Danny Fulton
  • Frank Gifford
  • Daren Gilbert
  • Cookie Gilchrist
  • John Grimsley
  • Jason Hairston
  • Darryl Hammond
  • Carlton Haselrig
  • Rip Hawkins
  • Steve Heimkreiter
  • Chris Henry
  • Aaron Hernandez
  • Wally Hilgenberg
  • John Hilton
  • Glen Ray Hines
  • Paul Hornung
  • Jim Houston
  • Jim Hudson
  • Claude Humphrey
  • Gerry Huth
  • Vincent Jackson
  • Darrius Johnson
  • John Henry Johnson
  • Ron Johnson Sr.
  • Vaughan Johnson
  • Terry Joyce
  • Tom Keating
  • Bob Kuechenberg
  • Jim Kiick
  • Frank LeMaster
  • Bill Lenkaitis
  • Greg Lens
  • Terry Long
  • Edward Lothamer
  • Rob Lytle
  • Charles Mackey
  • John Mackey
  • Ollie Matson
  • Tommy McDonald
  • Kelly McGregor
  • Tom McHale
  • Fred McNeill
  • Earl Morrall
  • Larry Morris
  • Tommy Nobis
  • Joe O’Malley
  • Paul Oliver
  • Chuck Osborne
  • Ray Perkins
  • Joe Perry
  • Richard Pickens
  • Cyril Pinder
  • Mike Pitts
  • Mike Pyle
  • Bob Riley
  • Isiah Robertson
  • Adrian Robinson
  • Rocky Rosema
  • Scott Ross
  • Edward Roth
  • Max Runager
  • Tyler Sash
  • Eric Scoggins
  • Clyde Scott
  • Jake Scott
  • Junior Seau
  • Bubba Smith
  • Robert Sowell
  • Ken Stabler
  • Jeff Staggs
  • Bill Stanfill
  • Justin Strzelczyk
  • Jerry Sturm
  • Pat Sullivan
  • Mosi Tatupu
  • Daniel Te’o-Nesheim
  • Demaryius Thomas
  • Bill Troup
  • Max Tuerk
  • Kevin Turner
  • Tommy Vaughn
  • Frank Wainright
  • Fulton Walker
  • Andrew Waters
  • Mike Webster
  • Jim Welch
  • Ralph Wenzel
  • Charles White
  • Jesse Whittenton
  • John Wilbur
  • Ben Williams
  • Stanley Wilson Jr.
  • Jeff Winans
  • Dennis Wirgowski
  • Willie Wood
  • Roger Zatkoff

Disclaimer: If you know someone who is having suicidal thoughts, anxiety, going through depression, or is suffering from a serious mental illness, reach out to a nearby doctor, mental health expert, or an NGO for immediate help. There are several helplines available for the same.