Vincent Jackson’s Family Donates His Brain to Boston University’s CTE Center After Death

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Vincent Jackson, former NFL wide receiver, was found dead on Monday in his hotel room located at a Homewood Suites in Brandon, Florida. Jackson’s family reported him missing on February 10. However, the missing persons case was canceled when deputies were able to locate and speak with Jackson at the hotel on February 12.

According to the Initial Case Summary created by the medical examiner’s office, “Jackson was located by the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office as part of a welfare check on Feb. 12. Then on Feb. 13 and 14, the hotel staff entered his room and noticed that he was seated on the couch but slouched over.” After believing he was asleep, the staff left. However, when they came back the next day and noticed he had not moved, they called 911. There were no signs of trauma or injury, other than a small laceration on his left big toe. According to a preliminary medical examiner’s report, Jackson may have been dead for three days when he was found.

After Jackson’s death, members of his family stated they believe “chronic alcoholism and the lingering effects of concussions might have contributed to [Jackson’s] death.” During an interview on a local radio station, Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister revealed new information from preliminary autopsy reports, confirming that Jackson suffered from chronic alcoholism. Chronister also stated that Jackson’s family whole-heartedly believes Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (“CTE”) is a contributory factor in his death.

After that interview, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office put out a press release stating, “The Hillsborough County Medical Examiner’s Office continues to conduct a thorough investigation alongside the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office. Based on statements made by relatives of Jackson to detectives, his family had reason to believe he may have suffered from chronic alcoholism and concussions, however, the exact cause and manner of Mr. Jackson’s death will not be certain until his autopsy, among other reports, is complete.”

CTE is a degenerative disease that is theoretically linked to repeat mild traumatic brain injuries (“TBI”). [R]ecent CTE research [ ] asserts the longer a player engages in tackle football, the more likely they are to develop the degenerative brain disease. However, it is only diagnosed after death through brain tissue analysis. Jackson’s family donated his brain to Boston University’s CTE Center. Researchers at Boston University said the determination can take months.

A lawsuit was recently filed against the NFL concussion settlement program, alleging that the formula for compensating former players for head injury claims deliberately discriminated on the basis of race.  It is not clear at this time whether Mr. Jackson filed a claim under the program.  CTE has been linked to prior head injuries such as those caused by participation in football.  

Click here to read our four part series on CTE.

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