January 31, 2023

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The family of Demarius Thomas, a former Bronco recipient, allowed Boston University to study his brain, after his death in December 2021. The examination concluded that Thomas suffered from stage 2 CTE.

“As soon as I became aware of CTE and began recognizing symptoms, I noticed that Demarius was self-isolating and I saw other changes in him,” Demarius’ mother, Katina Smith, said in a statement released by the Concussion Legacy Foundation. “He was so young, and it was awful to see him struggle. I wish his dad and all the families learned the dangers of playing football. We don’t want other parents to lose their children like we did.”

Although this suggests that the epileptic seizure that ended his life at age 33 was associated with CTE, the release from the Concussion Legacy Foundation acknowledges that despite speculation that late-stage CTE could be associated with epilepsy It is very likely that he developed post-traumatic epilepsy after a car accident and fall several years before his death.

This is still the biggest problem with CTE. What does it mean to get it? It’s still not clear, more than a decade after it first became a moot point. This creates a real fear for ex-players who wonder if they’re walking around with a time bomb inside their skulls.

Having said that, we know that more than just football players get it. Just last week, former MLS player Scott Vermillion was announced Stage 2 was CTE. He died of an accidental overdose in 2020.

Football has been associated with head trauma for as long as football. Other sports put the brain at risk for injury, from hockey to rugby to lacrosse to motor racing to boxing to MMA, an endeavor that at times becomes a lot more brutal than any other sport can be.

The bottom line is that everyone at this point knows the risks of head injury, in any endeavor that may occur. Although some appear to be actively rooting for CTE to bring down the NFL, no professional player other than Chris Borland – who retired from football seven years ago after one season in the NFL – has been left out of play because of these concerns.

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