Former Buccaneers WR Vincent Jackson Diagnosed with Stage 2 CTE After Death at Age 38

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVDecember 16, 2021

06 December 2015: Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Vincent Jackson (83) during the NFL game between the Atlanta Falcons and Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, FL. (Photo by Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire) (Photo by Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire/Corbis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire/Corbis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The family of former NFL wide receiver Vincent Jackson announced Thursday he was posthumously diagnosed with stage 2 chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) following his death in February at the age of 38.

Greg Auman of The Athletic reported the family of Jackson, who played for the San Diego Chargers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers during a 12-year career, announced the diagnosis to "help raise public awareness for CTE."

Jackson's brain was donated to Boston University's CTE Center following his death. He was found dead in a Florida hotel room Feb. 15 with "no signs of trauma or injury," per ESPN's Jenna Laine.

CTE is a degenerative brain disease believed to originate from repeated trauma to the head. It can only currently be diagnosed from an autopsy after death.

"If anything can be learned from his death that might help someone else, Vincent would want that since he was passionate during his life about impacting others around him," family spokesperson Allison Gorrell told ESPN about the donation of Jackson's brain.

In 2017, a study of 202 former football players found 87 percent of them showed signs of CTE, including 99 percent (110 of 111) of those who played at the NFL level.

"There's no question that there's a problem in football. That people who play football are at risk for this disease," Dr. Ann McKee, director of Boston University's CTE Center, told CNN's Daniella Emanuel about the 2017 findings. "And we urgently need to find answers for not just football players, but veterans and other individuals exposed to head trauma."

News of Jackson's diagnosis comes two days after the Concussion Legacy Foundation announced former NFL cornerback Phillip Adams, who died by suicide in April after fatally shooting six people in South Carolina, was also diagnosed with stage 2 CTE. Adams was 32.

"As we process these results, we are deeply saddened by the events that occurred on April 7 and we continue to pray for the families of the victims," Adams' family said. "We are pleased to have a better understanding of the mental turmoil that Phillip was dealing with during the last moments of his life. We cannot say that we are surprised by these results, however it is shocking to hear how severe his condition was."

The NFL released a statement in response to the findings about Adams, saying it's committed $100 million in support of "independent medical research and engineering advancements in neuroscience-related topics."

"As noted by the authors, there are still many unanswered questions relating to the cause, incidence and prevalence of long-term effects of head trauma such as CTE," the league said. "The NFL is committed to supporting scientific research into CTE and advancing progress in the prevention and treatment of head injuries."

Jackson was one of the NFL's best receivers in his prime. He topped 1,000 yards six times in a seven-year span beginning in 2008 and earned three career Pro Bowl selections.

The Colorado native last played with the Bucs during the 2016 season and formally retired in 2018.