Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) and Former National Football League Player Suicides

Submitted by: Marcos A. Abreu*(1), Fred J. Cromartie (1), Brandon D. Spradley (1)
(1) United States Sports Academy

*Corresponding Author:
Marcos Abreu
Doctoral Student
United States Sports Academy
One Academy Drive
Daphne, Alabama 36526

Marcos Abreu is a doctoral student at the United States Sports Academy studying sports management.

Purpose: Our understanding of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) has rapidly advanced, since 2002, when Dr. Bennet I. Omalu first discovered CTE in the brain of deceased former National Football League (NFL) player Mike Webster. Although it is clear that there is a link between the neurological diseases and exposure to repeated mild traumatic brain injuries, the explicit link between the long-term consequences that are associated with CTE and the suicide death of several former NFL players is much less clear. The purpose of this paper is to examine if the psychological and cognitive consequences that are associated with CTE are factors in the suicide death of several former NFL players.
Method: The literature used in this paper was acquired using the words NFL concussions, NFL player CTE research, CTE symptoms in NFL players, and NFL player suicide death in the EBSCOhost and Internet Explorer search engines.

Results: Although similar studies on the relationship between CTE and suicide in former NFL players determined that further research was needed to prove a connection (47, 22), the case study research and testimonial evidence discussed in this study reinforces Omula et al. (2010) findings that identified these psychological and cognitive consequences as key variables associated in suicide death of an alarming amount of NFL players, such as former Eagles and Arizona Cardinals Defensive Back Andre Waters, who resorted to suicide as a result of diminished neurological capabilities and accumulation of symptoms. Continue reading