Ken Stabler Found to Have CTE in Postmortem Study

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistFebruary 3, 2016

Former Oakland Raiders QB Ken Stabler during pregame in an NFL game between the New York Jets and the Oakland Raiders  in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, Oct. 25, 2009.(AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Ben Margot/Associated Press

Another high-profile NFL star was posthumously diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, as John Branch of the New York Times reported Wednesday that former Oakland Raiders quarterback Ken Stabler dealt with the disease.

According to Branch, Boston University researchers recently discovered CTE in Stabler's brain, nearly seven months after he died of colon cancer at the age of 69.    

Per Branch, Stabler was diagnosed with stage 3 CTE (on a scale of 1-4), as further described by Dr. Ann McKee, who is the chief of neuropathology at the V.A. Boston Healthcare System and a professor of neurology and pathology at the Boston University School of Medicine: "He had moderately severe disease. Pretty classic. It may be surprising since he was a quarterback, but certainly the lesions were widespread, and they were quite severe, affecting many regions of the brain."

Branch also noted "Stabler added his name to a class-action lawsuit brought by former players against the NFL, seeking damages from decades of concussions. The suit was settled last April and is under appeal. Under the current deal, though, Stabler’s family would not be eligible for compensation because Stabler’s CTE was diagnosed after the April 2015 cutoff."

Stabler was the seventh quarterback found to have had the disease and over the 100th former NFL player overall, according to Branch. That's a fact that his daughter Alexa Stabler is still struggling to come to grips with:

He played 15 seasons in the NFL, gave up his body and, apparently, now his mind. And to see the state that he was in physically and mentally when he died, and to learn that despite all the energy and time and resources he gave to football—and not that he played the game for free, he made money, too—without the knowledge that this is where he would end up, physically and cognitively, and for the settlement to say you get nothing? It's hard not to be angry.

Stabler, who is a finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Class of 2016, enjoyed a standout NFL career for the Raiders, Houston Oilers and New Orleans Saints.

He was selected to the Pro Bowl four times and led the Raiders to a victory in Super Bowl XI.

Peyton Manning spoke with reporters Wednesday about Stabler's impact on the NFL and his death:

The NFL quarterback fraternity lost a great one, lost a legend, when we lost The Snake. I reached out to his family and told them they were in my thoughts and prayers. That is my reaction to that. I haven’t had time to process the other information.

What a prince of a guy. What a great leader. I have heard John Madden talk about him a number of times. He truly was one of a kind.

Nicknamed "The Snake," the former Alabama standout finished his NFL career with 27,938 passing yards and 194 touchdowns.

While Stabler thrilled fans for many seasons on the field, he paid the price for it in later years, which is something that has been recognized more and more since the initial discovery of CTE in deceased football players by Dr. Bennet Omalu.

Boston University has now found CTE in 90 of the 94 former football players it has examined, per Branch, and that number promises to continue to rise as there are likely still many former players experiencing the same issues as Stabler.

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