Aaron Hernandez was 23 years old when he was convicted of murdering Odin Lloyd. He was 27 years old when he hung himself in his cell in a Massachusetts prison, a mere 5 days after being acquitted of murdering two other people. He played a grand total of 44 games before his arrest.
After his death, an autopsy was done, and his brain was examined in a study done by Boston University. Those results, according to the Washington Post, found “The 27-year-old had the second-most severe form of the disease [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent="yes" overflow="visible"][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type="1_1" background_position="left top" background_color="" border_size="" border_color="" border_style="solid" spacing="yes" background_image="" background_repeat="no-repeat" padding="" margin_top="0px" margin_bottom="0px" class="" id="" animation_type="" animation_speed="0.3" animation_direction="left" hide_on_mobile="no" center_content="no" min_height="none"][chronic traumatic encephalopathy] and one of the most advanced cases that researchers had seen in a subject his age.” Despite his young age and the few number of games he played, Aaron Hernandez’s brain showed signs of Stage III CTE – a level of degeneration usually found in players twice his age.
His family has filed a lawsuit against the New England Patriots and the NFL: “The lawsuit says the Patriots performed preseason exams of Hernandez and should have recognized signs of cognitive impairment. The NFL was ‘fully aware of the damage that could be inflicted from repetitive impact injuries and failed to disclose, treat or protect him from the danger of such damage.’”
When will enough be enough?
This is not about turning Aaron Hernandez into a hero or a victim; it is about recognizing that for all the safety precautions, all the technology, all the big talk and lofty promises, no one is effectively protecting these players from permanent, life-threatening brain injuries.
As a reminder, this is what we do know.
- CTE has been linked to increased aggression, erratic behavior, and suicidal thoughts.
- Jovian Belcher, Tyler Sash, Ray Esterling, Dave Duerson, Andre Waters, and Junior Seau all killed themselves, and they all had CTE
- 96% to 99% of deceased NFL players’ brains show signs of CTE
CTE cannot be diagnosed until a person has died, so there is no definitive way to determine whether or not a player has the disease – but there are signs and symptoms. When players start presenting with these symptoms, we need to acknowledge them and treat the players as best we can, not ignore them and hope for the best. And we need to start doing it in high school, because as many as 20% of high school football players end up with the disease.
CTE is a progressive disease. There is no cure. It will eventually kill you. And if you play football, it almost certainly will.
Please. Choose the future. Choose your children. Choose life.
Crandall & Pera Law is a premier personal injury law firm serving Ohio and Kentucky. We protect the rights of traumatic brain injury victims of all ages. Please call our Ohio brain injury lawyers at 877.686.8879, our Kentucky TBI attorneys at 877.651.7764, or fill out this contact form to learn more about our services.
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