Former NFL superstar found to have suffered chronic traumatic encephalopathy

According to his family, the brain of former NFL standout Demaryius Thomas, who passed away suddenly late last year, showed clear signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

According to The Daily Wire, Thomas was one of Peyton Manning’s favorite targets during the Denver Broncos’ 2015 Super Bowl run and a top wide receiver for the organization for a decade. Thomas passed away on Dec. 21, 2021.

His family donated his brain to Boston University for research, and that research has since identified Stage 2 CTE, the brain illness caused by repeated concussions that affects many former professional football players.

“Like so many that have gone before, we found stage 2 CTE in the brain of Demaryius Thomas,” said Dr. Ann McKee, chief of neuropathology for the VA Boston Healthcare System.

The football player’s family had suspicions that he died from a seizure caused by a 2019 car crash, however, an analysis of his brain found that CTE helped cause his “increasingly erratic” behavior in the months before his death, The New York Times reported.

Thomas also reportedly suffered “memory loss, paranoia and isolation that are hallmarks” of CTE in the year leading up to his death, according to the report in The Times. The medical staff admitted that Thomas’ mental issues predated the onset of the seizures in 2020 but stated that he most likely passed away as a result of automobile accident complications.

Before the athlete’s passing, his family had been aware that something wasn’t right. According to Bobby Thomas, the athlete’s father, his anxiety had gotten so bad that “he never left home without a gun.” His mother claimed that the family had become more and more concerned.

“Once I became aware of CTE and began to familiarize myself with the symptoms, I noticed that Demaryius was isolating himself and I saw other changes in him,” Thomas’ mother, Katina Smith, said in a statement. “He was just so young, and it was horrible to see him struggle. His father and I hope all families learn the risks of playing football. We don’t want other parents to have to lose their children like we did.”

Thomas, a 6-foot-3, 225-pound receiver, was selected 22nd overall in the 2010 NFL Draft out of Georgia Tech, and had just declared his retirement a few months before he was found dead.

More must be done to safeguard football players from brain damage, according to McKee, who has identified over 300 former NFL players with CTE.

“The question I keep asking myself is ‘When will enough be enough?'”McKee said. “When will athletes, parents and the public at large stop ignoring the risks of American football and insist that the game be changed to reduce subconcussive hits and that the athletes be comprehensively evaluated at the beginning and end of every season?”

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