*Unfortunately, the Aaron Hernandez CTE diagnosis did not come as a surprise to many one-time fans.
Just 10 months after Aaron Hernandez signed a $40 million contract with the New England Patriots, he was convicted of murder. Hernandez was then accused of two other killings from 2012, and a few days after an acquittal in that case, he hanged himself inside his prison cell.
A star at the University of Florida, Hernandez went on to play three seasons with the Patriots. During his second season, Hernandez caught 79 passes for 910 yards and seven touchdowns, and he helped lead his team to the Super Bowl.
Hernandez was just 27 years old when he killed himself, but his sad story is nowhere near over.
Most elite athletes report that at least 50% of their superior athletic performance is due to mental strength. Additionally, guidelines published by the American College of Sports Medicine recommend 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise five days a week, of which elite athletes easily exceed. No matter how hard these professional athletes train, however, they are still at risk of having their lives altered by a horrible disease.
Hernandez’ brain was recently examined and found to have the same problems as the late Ken Stabler, Junior Seau, and Mike Webster.
Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) has been widely discussed across both the scientific and sports communities. Dozens of ex-professional football players who have passed away for various reasons have been found to have this debilitating neurodegenerative disease.
“We’re told it was the most severe case [of CTE] they had ever seen for someone of Aaron’s age,” attorney Jose Baez said.
Aaron showed signs of memory loss, impulsivity, and aggression, all symptoms of CTE.
“When hindsight is 20-20, you look back and there are things you might have noticed,” Baez added. “But you don’t know.”
ESPN reports that CTE can only be diagnosed in an autopsy. The disease has also been found in former members of the military, boxers, and other individuals who have been subjected to repeated head trauma.
Hall of Fame wide receiver and football analyst Chris Carter gave an emotional statement on the CTE finding:
“I saw him at the University of Florida at practices and to think this is a game we encourage young people to play and the end result is that. I’m conflicted,” Carter said, who spent 16 years in the NFL. “I wonder what’s going to happen to my generation. I have had teammates of mine kill themselves, Andre Waters in Philadelphia. And good friends of mine, Junior Seau [and] Dave Duerson — great men [that] all have done great things in their community, all of a sudden become violent and took their own lives. I worry what my future is.”
According to The New York Times, as of July 2017, neuropathologists have examined the brains of 111 ex National Football League players — 110 were found to have CTE.
The NFL did not comment on the medical finding.
Image Source: Jeffrey Bealle