Former NFL Star Vincent Jackson's Brain to Be Donated to CTE Research After Death

The family of NFL player Vincent Jackson, who was found dead in his hotel room on Feb. 15, donated his brain to researchers to determine if he had CTE, a brain disease linked to head trauma.

By Kaitlin Reilly Feb 19, 2021 7:47 PMTags
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Retired NFL player Vincent Jackson's family donated his brain to researchers at Boston University, who will determine if he suffered from chromic traumatic encephalopathy, the New York Times reported. 

Jackson was found dead in his hotel room in Florida on Feb. 15. He was 38. The cause of death has yet to be determined.

A representative for the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office Public Affairs Office told E! News, "It could be several weeks before we know what led to the untimely and tragic death of Vincent Jackson. 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."

Allison Gorrell, a spokeswoman for the Jackson family, told NYT of the donation, "Vincent being who he was would have wanted to help as many people as possible. It's something his family wanted to do to get answers to some of their questions."

Chromic traumatic encephalopathy, known as CTE, is linked to repeated head trauma. Football players are particularly at risk for CTE, which can cause cognitive impairment, suicidal thoughts, memory loss, depression and impulsive behavior, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Currently, CTE can only be diagnosed after death by postmortem neuropathological analysis. Football players such as Ollie Matson, Tommy NobisKen Stabler and Frank Gifford were determined to have suffered from CTE postmortem.

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Researchers at Boston University are now seeking ways to test for CTE during life.

Cliff McBride/Getty Images

Jackson, who played for the San Diego Chargers and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, participated in 155 NFL games between 2005 and 2016. He announced his retirement in 2018, before transitioning into a real estate career. 

In addition to playing football, the athlete ran the Jackson In Action 83 Foundation, which provided support to military families. He is survived by his wife Lindsey and their four children. 

"My heart aches for the many loved ones Vincent Jackson leaves behind, from his wife and children to the Buccaneers nation that adored him," Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister said in a statement. "Mr. Jackson was a devoted man who put his family and community above everything else."

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