ESPN: “Former New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez had a severe case of the degenerative brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy, researchers said on Thursday. His lawyer announced a lawsuit against the NFL and the team, accusing them of hiding the true dangers of the sport.
Dr. Ann McKee, the director of the CTE Center at Boston University, said Hernandez had stage 3 (out of 4) of the disease, which can cause violent mood swings, depression and other cognitive disorders.
“We’re told it was the most severe case they had ever seen for someone of Aaron’s age,” attorney Jose Baez said.
Hernandez was 27 when he killed himself in April in the prison cell where he was serving a life-without-parole sentence for murder. Baez said Hernandez had shown signs of memory loss, impulsivity and aggression that could be attributed to CTE.
It turns out that Aaron Hernandez had “the mot server case [the CTE researchers at Boston University] had ever seen for someone of Aaron’s age.” That likely explains A LOT about what the inner workings of Hernandez’s mind. However, it doesn’t excuse him from his actions or take back the fact that he was allegedly a cold-blooded murderer.
What it does do is prove that more research needs to go into PREVENTING CTE. We’re aware that it exists, we know what causes are and we know what the long term effects of it are. Let’s acknowledge all of that as scientific fact now. There should no longer be a discussion of it’s legitimacy.
The question now becomes, how do we prevent it from happening and how doe we treat it? Many of the steps taken by the NFL are moves in the right direction, but by the time a players professional career has begun, it may be too late.
Here are some suggestions:
- Flag football for all players under the age of 16, no head-to-head contact for children
- High schools who want to have football should be required to provide the most state-of-the-art helmets available
- Heavy research should go into medicines / treatments that could combat the proteins that cause CTE (that even means cannabis if necessary)
- Stricter enforcement of targeting / helmet to helmet hits – players won’t take it seriously until it starts to affect their pocketbooks.
Listen, not everyone who has CTE is going to be an alleged murderer (possibly a serial killer) like Aaron Hernandez. That’s something that was inside of him, the CTE likely just brought it out and emboldened that. But, since we now know about it, something needs to be done about it.
As far as the lawsuit is concerned. I’m torn over that. I think it’s good that the attention from the case could shine a spotlight on the subject of CTE and force the league to take it more seriously. Aside from that, I’m not sure how I feel about it. The guy still murdered someone and should have been prosecuted for that.