The deaths of numerous former NFL players have been associated with chronic traumatic encephalopathy, but few of these deaths were as tragic or horrific as the death of Jovan Belcher and his girlfriend in 2012.
The linebacker, who at the time was 25-years-old, shot and killed his girlfriend before committing suicide hours later. A new report obtained from Belcher’s post-mortem examination also suggests he was living with CTE at the time.
Dr. Piotr Kozlowski noted extensive brain damage including build ups of tau protein tangles throughout the hippocampus. The high level of these tangles, which are indicative of CTE in autopsy, through the area of the brain associated with memory, learning, and emotion may also have played a role in the dramatic events surrounding Belcher’s death.
CTE is typically linked to emotional and behavioral problems, as well as violent outbursts. In the wake of the recent domestic abuse scandals in the NFL, several media outlets have openly considered whether the high rates of brain injury and CTE could be playing a part in these events.