Late Pro Bowl Wide Receiver Vincent Jackson Had Stage 2 CTE

By Jason Hall

December 17, 2021

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Pittsburgh Steelers
Photo: Getty Images

Former NFL wide receiver Vincent Jackson, who was found dead in a hotel room earlier this year, had stage 2 CTE, according to his family.

"Vincent dedicated so much of his life to helping others. Even in his passing, I know he would want to continue that same legacy," said his widow, Lindsey Jackson, in a statement obtained by NBC News revealing his diagnosis on Thursday (December 16).

CTE is a degenerative brain disease linked to head trauma and concussions and NFL players have been at the forefront of its discussion amid growing data in recent years.

Stage 2 CTE is associated with progressive cognitive and behavioral abnormalities, with associated symptoms including aggression, impulsivity, explosivity, depression, paranoia, anxiety, poor executive function and memory loss, though Adams' diagnosis was deemed "unusually severe" in both of his frontal lobes, differing from most other young players.

Jackson's family said they donated his brain to the VA-BU-CLF Brain Bank at Boston University with hope that it can help in researching and better understanding of the disorder.

"There is still a lot to be understood about CTE, and education is the key to prevention," Lindsey Jackson said. "The conversation around this topic needs to be more prevalent, and our family hopes that others will feel comfortable and supported when talking about CTE moving forward."

Dr. Ann McKee of the VA Boston Healthcare System and the VA-BU-CLF Brain Bank said the former wide receiver experienced depression, paranoia and "progressive memory loss" during his battle with the disorder.

"Vincent Jackson was a brilliant, disciplined, gentle giant whose life began to change in his mid-30s. That his brain showed stage 2 CTE should no longer surprise us; these results have become commonplace," McKee said in the news release. "What is surprising is that so many football players have died with CTE and so little is being done to make football, at all levels, safer by limiting the number of repetitive subconcussive hits.

"CTE will not disappear by ignoring it, we need to actively address the risk that football poses to brain health and to support the players who are struggling."

Jackson was found dead at Homewood Suites in Brandon, Florida on February 15 after a housekeeper went into his room to check on him.

The former wide receiver's cause and manner of death are still pending as of December 17.

Jackson played for the then-San Diego Chargers (2005-11) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2012-16) during his 12-year NFL career.

The three-time Pro Bowl selection finished his NFL career with 540 receptions for 9,080 yards and 57 touchdowns.

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