Football & the Law

The late football star who played for the Florida Gators under Urban Meyer, and then went on to play for the New England Patriots ended up convicted of murder and committed suicide in his jail cell in April. He was 27 years old.

Test results now show that he suffered with one of the worst cases of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), a brain disease that doctors have seen to date. CTE is a brain disease that causes aggression, explosiveness, impulsivity, depression, memory loss and other cognitive changes. It is a degenerative brain disease caused by repeated hits to the head.

The only way to diagnose the disease in players, which is believed to be caused by all of the concussions a player suffers, is after death when the brain can be studied. Thus far, more than 111 players’ brains have been studied and out of those, 110 had CTE.

Dr. Ann McKee of Boston’s CTE center performed the neuro-examination of Hernandez’s brain and concluded that Hernandez stage 3 CTE. Stage 4 is the most severe. Her diagnosis was confirmed by a second neurologist.

The Hernandez family is suing the NFL and the Patriots on behalf of Hernandez’s four-year old daughter. The lawsuit alleges that by the time the star athlete reached the NFL in 2010, league officials were well-aware of how the sport could cause the life-threatening disease.

The NFL has fought the accuracy of these studies, but a few years back and under much pressure donated money to the National Institutes of Health for brain studies. However, in July amid rumors of bitter disputes between the league and the lead researcher, the NFL cut ties with the study.

The Patriots have yet to comment on Hernandez’s brain report and the family’s impending lawsuit. A spokesman for the NFL refused to comment.

If you have legal questions, please consult our Online Legal Directory to find an attorney in your area.

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