Many would say football runs in the blood in the Hasselbeck family. In the 70’s and 80’s, Don Hasselbeck played tight end in the NFL. Since then, two of his three children have followed him into professional football. Matt and Tim Hasselbeck have both spent years as quarterbacks in the NFL before becoming analysts for ESPN.
Now, Matt Hasselbeck is following his father’s lead again by pledging to donate his brain to the Concussion Legacy Foundation for future study. The CLF helps operate a brain bank with the Department of Veterans Affairs and Boston University and has already diagnosed more than 250 cases of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).
“During my football career, we didn’t have enough information on the long-term effects of concussions and brain trauma,” Hasselbeck, 41, said in a news release. “I want to be part of the solution, and by pledging my brain I am doing my part to provide the data to protect the next generation of athletes.”
According to the Wall Street Journal, over 1,800 former athletes and military veterans have made pledges to donate their brains to aid concussion-related research after they die. However, Hasselbeck is one of the most notable athletes to make the commitment. The NFL player made it to the Super Bowl in 2005 and was selected to the Pro Bowl three times in his career.
Since the end of his 17 seasons long career in the NFL, Hasselbeck has become a member of the NFL Player’s Association’s executive committee. In this position, he has worked on a number of player health issues, including concussions and helmet safety.
While Matt may be one of the most recognizable modern players to pledge their brain to a brain bank, he is not the first in his family. Don was one of the earliest players to pledge their brain in 2010 before CTE was well-known among the public and athletes.
Chris Nowinski, the Concussion Legacy Foundation’s executive director said in the news release: “We are working to create a culture of brain donation in America by asking living athletes and Veterans to donate their brains to the Brain Bank to be studied by VA and Boston University researchers. … Now in our 10th year studying the disease, we have taken major steps toward treatment and a cure that are only possible through collaboration among the athlete, Veteran, and scientific communities.”