Former NFL player Aaron Hernandez had a severe case of CTE

Former NFL player Aaron Hernandez had a severe case of CTE

It’s recently been revealed that former New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez was, in fact, suffering from a severe case of the degenerative brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Hernandez made headlines in 2015 when he was found guilty of murder and when, just this past April, he killed himself in the prison cell where he was serving life-without-parole. He was 27.

According to Jose Baez, Hernandez’s lawyer, his client showed signs of memory loss, impulsivity, and aggression, all symptoms that could be attributed to CTE. In addition, Baez recently announced a lawsuit against the NFL and the New England Patriots for hiding CTE and the true dangers of the sport.

What is CTE?

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a degenerative brain disease found in athletes, military veterans, and others with a history of repetitive brain trauma. CTE involves a protein called Tau which forms clumps that slowly spread throughout the brain, killing brain cells. The brain then eventually shrinks and, when that happens, people can start to develop tremors, memory problems, or even emotional problems.

Dr. Ann McKee, the director of the CTE Center at Boston University, said Hernandez had Stage 3 (out of 4) of the disease, which can cause violent mood swings, depression, and other cognitive disorders.

CTE and the NFL

CTE is unique in that it can only be diagnosed in an autopsy and it is predominantly found in people who have been subjected to repeated head trauma. A recent study found signs of the disease in 110 of 111 NFL players whose brains were inspected.

CTE is difficult to study, especially in NFL players because they are fundamentally different from other people, both physically and mentally. Aggression is a regular part of the game, so behavioral anger isn’t always an easy indicator. Additionally, the use of performance-enhancing substances is common and those can also affect a person’s behavior.

Most impact sports are dangerous, but it’s tough to unilaterally condemn them for their effect on the player’s brain-health, as there are some people who can get hit on the head a lot and really suffer no consequences.

Should the NFL be more up-front about these risks? The league recently agreed to pay $1 billion to retired players who claimed the NFL misled them about the dangers of playing football, a gesture which is definitely a step in the right direction.


Leave A Reply

Recent Posts