Yet Another Former NFL Player Diagnosed With CTE

Ken Stabler, who quarterbacked the Oakland Raiders for most of the 1970s, can now be added to the growing list of former NFL players who have suffered from CTE.

A post-humus examination of Stabler’s brain revealed to Boston University researchers that Stabler had developed chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a brain disease that scientists believe is caused by repeated blows to the head.

While information about CTE is still somewhat limited due to the fact that it cannot currently be diagnosed in people who are alive, its affects have proven to negatively influence behavior.

In studying Stabler’s brain, Boston University neuropathologist Dr. Ann McKee observed instantly that there was significant damage. Though the 69-year-old died of cancer in July, he had been experiencing headaches and memory lapses for years, which had prompted him to request his brain be devoted to research.

Many other ex-NFL players concerned about concussion related issues have also donated their brains for research, and over 95% of the 91 who have tested positive for CTE. But it remains unclear as to why some develop the disease and some do not.

As the research continues, one concern is that CTE may be more widespread than once thought. “There are a number of cases in people who never saw an athletic field,” says Dr. Robert Cantu.

Beyond NFL players, Dr. Cantu has seen CTE in ex-military members, abuse victims, and others who have repeatedly banged their heads.

Perhaps more contact sports like hockey and boxing will begin to take the issue seriously, from professional organizations all the way down to the youth level. Until that happens, the list of those have suffered will continue to grow.