Retired WR had CTE Before Death; When will the NFL Properly Address this Issue?

On Tuesday, the family of legendary Broncos WR Demaryius Thomas released findings from a study conducted by the Boston University CTE Center.

Legendary Broncos Receiver Demaryius Thomas

The study concluded that researchers had diagnosed the four-time Pro Bowl wide receiver with Stage 2 chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

Katina Smith, Thomas’ mother, began to familiarize herself with CTE and the symptoms patients deal with. She recognized her son’s changed behavior and how he isolated himself and wondered if he had CTE.

Smith’s statement to the press said,

“He was just so young, and it was horrible to see him struggle. His father and I hope all families learn the risks of playing football. We don’t want other parents to have to lose their children like we did.”

Stage 2 CTE is associated with progressive behavior and cognitive and mood abnormalities. Thomas’ family says he was struggling with depression, anxiety, panic attacks, and trouble with his memory in the years before his death.

Broncos WR, Courtland Sutton, pays tribute to his friend.

Dr. Ann McKee, chief of neuropathology for the VA Boston Healthcare System, director of the BU CTE Center and VA-BU-CLF/UNITE Brain Bank said,

“Like so many that have gone before, we found stage 2 CTE in the brain of Demaryius Thomas. The question I keep asking myself is ‘When will enough be enough?’ When will athletes, parents and the public at large stop ignoring the risks of American football and insist that the game be changed to reduce subconcussive hits?”

She has a point. I love football as much as the next guy but, when will enough be enough? We are losing guys that have given everything to play the game of football. We all love watching players like Thomas, but none of us want to lose players because of CTE. We have to keep the discussion on the forefront because CTE is not going away, and the repercussions players are dealing with including losing their lives has to end. Thomas shouldn’t be gone. Let’s take the opportunity to continue studies and learn what we can to improve player safety at all levels of football in the future.

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