Is Antonio Brown’s Erratic Behavior A Sign Of CTE?
Antonio Brown stormed off the field in the middle of a game Sunday, and he was immediately let go by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But is his behavior a sign of something worse?
I don't mean to make it sound like I'm excusing AB's erratic and, at times abhorrent, behavior, but some of things he's been doing have resembled the past behavior of people whose brains have been scrambled by CTE.
CTE is defined by the National Health Service as "Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a progressive brain condition that's thought to be caused by repeated blows to the head and repeated episodes of concussion. It's particularly associated with contact sports, such as boxing or American football."
Now I know that Antonio's problems run deeper than a brain injury, but repeated blows to the head over time is not helping deal with other issues that may be plaguing him.
CTE as a problem in ex-football players has been an issue for years, and the NFL has been slow to deal with its fallout.
Past players like Aaron Hernandez, Junior Seau, and most recently Philip Adams have exhibited strange behavior, including in Adams' case, mass murder, before committing suicide. Post death autopsies revealed that they had CTE.
Dr. Ann McKee, director of the Boston University CTE Center, said in a statement following Adams suicide that "his CTE pathology might have contributed to his abnormal behaviors, in addition to other physical, psychiatric and psychosocial factors."
According to the Wikipedia page for CTE:
Heisman Trophy winner and former NFL All-Pro Bo Jackson said in a 2017 interview with USA Today that if he had known about the risks associated with CTE, he would never have played football, and he discourages his children from doing so. In late 2017, former Kansas City Chiefs running back Larry Johnson reported having symptoms akin to Aaron Hernandez, including memory blanks, suicidal thoughts and thoughts of committing violent acts. Although there is no way to positively diagnose CTE before death, Johnson believes he is living with the disease.
First-stage symptoms are confusion, disorientation, dizziness, and headaches. Second-stage symptoms include memory loss, social instability, impulsive behavior, and poor judgment.
The list of former college and NFL players who were found to have had CTE after their death include former Michigan running back Rob Lytle, and former Monday night Football and Giants player Frank Gifford.
The problem is CTE can't be diagnosed during a person's life but only through an examination of their brain after they've died.
Neurologist Bennet Omalu was one of the first to notice a link between CTE and contact sports. A movie about his findings and the NFL's efforts to squelch them came out in 2015. The film, "Concussion" came out in 2015, and went a long way toward the NFL beginning to deal with it. His studies also triggered some lawsuits against the league to former players.
Many still living players who have admitted to having symptoms of CTE (and/or ALS or "Lou Gehrig's disease", which may be associated to CTE) include Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre and O.J. Simpson.
Here's hoping Antonio gets the help he needs to deal with his issues, some of which arose during an impoverished upbringing in Florida.
His behavior took a turn for the worse when a Michigan State Police officer he befriended while at Central Michigan University, Michael White, passed away.
White had been a father figure to Brown even after AB graduated from Central.
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