A report released by PBS Frontline revealed that 76 of 79 deceased NFL players suffered from a degenerative brain disease called chronic traumatic encephalopathy, also known as CTE.
According to the report, CTE is caused by repeated head trauma, where the functioning of the brain is interrupted and nerve cells begin to die. CTE is associated with multiple conditions including memory loss, confusion, aggression, depression, impaired judgement and impulse control problems.
During the study, researchers examined 128 football players who, before their deaths, played football either professionally, semi-professionally, in college or in high school. From that sample, 101 players (just under 80 percent) tested positive for CTE.
It’s important to note that CTE can only be identified posthumously and many of the players who donated their brains to research believed that they had the condition while they were still alive. The study notes that Chicago Bears player Dave Duerson committed suicide in 2011 by shooting himself in the chest to preserve his brain for examination.
Dr. Ann McKee, director of the nation’s brain bank, said the following in an interview about CTE:
“Obviously this high percentage of living individuals is not suffering from CTE. Playing football, and the higher the level you play football and the longer you play football, the higher your risk.”
The NFL declined to comment on the findings. To read the study, click here.