Vincent Jackson’s family has donated his brain to Boston University researchers to determine whether he had chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, according to The New York Times.
Jackson, the former Tampa Bay Buccaneers and San Diego Chargers wide receiver, was found dead in a hotel room outside of Tampa on Monday. He was 38.
“Vincent being who he was would have wanted to help as many people as possible,” a family spokeswoman told The New York Times. “It’s something his family wanted to do to get answers to some of their questions.”
CTE, the degenerative brain disease, has been found in ex-football players and other athletes in sports where repeated head trauma is common. It can only be diagnosed posthumously. Researchers at Boston University have led the way in CTE research in recent years, and have the world’s largest brain bank dedicated to the study.
That brain bank, per The New York Times, has seen a spike in donations from former football players who were 34 or younger when they died — more than half of which had CTE.
CTE has been found in several prominent former NFL players after their deaths, including Tyler Sash, Dave Duerson, Junior Seau, Mike Webster and Aaron Hernandez.
Investigators still looking into cause of death
Jackson had reportedly been living in the Homewood Suites hotel in Brandon, Florida, since Jan. 11. His family reported him missing on Feb. 10, though police found him alive at the hotel and spoke with him on Friday. He was then found dead by a housekeeper in his room before noon on Monday.
The cause of death has not yet been determined, though there were no initial signs of trauma. An autopsy is ongoing, though the Hillsborough County Sheriff said Wednesday that Jackson had health problems associated with alcoholism and that his family was concerned that concussions were a factor in his recent behavior, per The New York Times.
Jackson, a three-time Pro Bowler, played in the league from 2005-2016. He finished with more than 9,000 receiving yards and 57 touchdowns in his 12-season career.
His death has caused strong reactions in the NFL world, especially from former quarterback Ryan Leaf — who delivered an emotional plea for help from the league on social media.
“I don’t know what to [expletive] do anymore,” Leaf said. “My NFL brothers continue to die and ... nobody’s doing a goddamn thing about it. The NFL just doesn’t [expletive] care. They don’t care. They’ll write condolence letters and [expletive] like that, but if they were invested, they’d actually put some money behind the [NFL] Legends community and the mental health and substance abuse side of it.
“Once you’re bad for the brand, the 'Shield,' they could give two [expletive].”
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