Vincent Jackson, former NFL wide receiver with Bucs, Chargers, had CTE

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The family of late NFL wide receiver Vincent Jackson announced Thursday that he has been diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy – a degenerative brain disease more commonly known as CTE.

According to a news release, researchers at the VA-BU-CLF Brain Bank diagnosed Jackson with stage 2 CTE – which has been associated with behavioral symptoms like depression, paranoia, substance abuse and impulsivity. Stage 4 is the most severe.

“There is still a lot to be understood about CTE, and education is the key to prevention,” Jackson’s widow, Lindsey, said in a statement. 

“The conversation around this topic needs to be more prevalent, and our family hopes that others will feel comfortable and supported when talking about CTE moving forward.”

Jackson, 38, was found dead on Feb. 15 in his room at a Homewood Suites on the outskirts of Tampa, Florida. The autospy and toxicology reports had yet to be released by the local medical examiner’s office as of early Thursday morning.

The announcement of Jackson’s CTE diagnosis came less than 48 hours after a similar announcement regarding another former NFL player, Phillip Adams. Adams, who in April shot to death six people and killed himself, also had stage 2 CTE.

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Ann McKee, a neuropathologist who examined both brains, said in a statement that diagnoses like Jackson’s “should no longer surprise us.”

“These results have become commonplace,” McKee, who is also the director of the Boston University CTE Center, said in a statement. “What is surprising is that so many football players have died with CTE and so little is being done to make football, at all levels, safer by limiting the number of repetitive subconcussive hits.”

Authorities indicated that Jackson had been staying at a Tampa hotel for more than a month prior to his death.

According to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, Jackson’s family had reported him as missing in the week before he was found, but he was later located at the hotel by law enforcement. Officers conducted a wellness check on Feb. 12 – a Friday – and subsequently canceled the missing persons report.

That weekend, hotel staff saw Jackson “seated on the couch, slouched over” in his room on both Saturday and Sunday but thought he was sleeping, according to a preliminary report from the medical examiner’s office. Staff called 911 on Monday when a housekeeper found him in the same position.

Jackson’s family members initially told law enforcement that the former receiver, who played for the San Diego Chargers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, suffered from chronic alcoholism, and they believed the lingering effects of concussions might have contributed to his death.

Contact Tom Schad at [email protected] or on Twitter @Tom_Schad.


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