Deceased players suspected of having had CTE:
Included in the list are players diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) who were never tested post-mortem for CTE but whose history appears consistent with CTE.
Diagnosis of ALS has primarily been based on the presenting signs and symptoms a physician observes in the patient, and a series of tests to rule out other diseases. There is no single test or exam to detect ALS. Much of the diagnostic process is designed to rule out ALS by identifying other problems that could be causing symptoms rather than directly diagnosing ALS itself.
Preceding the discovery of CTE, many cases were diagnosed as ALS. Testing of ex-NFL players for the disease began only after Mike Webster’s brain tissue was analyzed in 2002. Testing for CTE slowly became common practice.
The National Football League has studied CTE in NFL players since 2002, with a cohort mortality study conducted by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) on players from 1959 thru 1988 who played at least five full seasons.
Findings showed that while NFL players lived longer than average American males, the risk of death associated with neurodegenerative disorders was about three times higher among the NFL cohort. Also noted was the risk for death from Alzheimer’s disease and ALS were about four times higher among the NFL cohort.
Some on this list may have had dementia not related to ALS or CTE:
- Curtis Brown
- Gene Hickerson
- Lawrence Phillips
- Jim Ringo
- Steve Smith
Living former players diagnosed with CTE or ALS or reporting symptoms consistent with CTE or ALS:
The players listed below have publicly acknowledged having been diagnosed with likely CTE or having experienced symptoms, such as dementia or unusual memory loss, consistent with CTE. In some cases, the player has received a diagnosis of ALS whose symptoms are consistent with CTE.
Over two dozen former players who were diagnosed as part of a UCLA study but have not come forward publicly. Additionally, over 4,500 former players joined a class action lawsuit against the NFL, alleging that it had covered up a growing body of medical evidence about the preponderance of head-trauma related CTE in ex-NFL players.
Some of these ex-players may have medical conditions other than CTE or ALS. For example, ex-players that have presented with symptoms late in life may have other forms of age-related dementia. Some of the former players on this list came forward only in the context of the class action lawsuit versus the NFL. At present, there is no definitive CTE test available for living persons. Their average age is 51.