Aaron Hernandez Had Severe Case Of CTE, Research Shows
Former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez was discovered to have advanced stages of neurodegenerative brain disease CTE at the time of his death, researchers stated Thursday following a posthumous examination of his brain.
Aaron Hernandez Suicide News
Hernandez committed suicide by hanging at age 27 in his jail cell in April after being sentenced to life in prison for murder. Examiners concluded that the damage to the late Patriots star’s brain was similar to that of retired players well into their 60s, according to the New York Times.
Dr. Ann McKee, the director of the CTE Center at Boston University, said Hernandez had stage 3 (out of 4) of the disease, which can cause violent mood swings, depression and other cognitive disorders.
“We’re told it was the most severe case they had ever seen for someone of Aaron’s age,” attorney Jose Baez said.
Chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, is a disease caused by repeated blows to the head that has been found in more than 100 former NFL players and some non-professional football players as well.
Several of the other deceased former NFL players who had CTE, like Dave Duerson, Junior Seau and Andre Waters also killed themselves after displaying symptoms of the disease like erratic behavior.
The disease — which has also been found in boxers and former military members — can only be diagnosed in an autopsy.
Hernandez’s estate filed a federal lawsuit on Thursday against the N.F.L. and the Patriots seeking damages to compensate his 4-year-old daughter for the loss of her father. The suit claims the league and the team were aware that repeated head blows could lead to CTE, yet neither did anything to protect Hernandez from such hits.
The NFL and the Patriots have yet to comment on the findings about Hernandez, who was convicted in 2013 — just ten months after signing a $10 million contract with the Patriots — of several murders in 2012. However, Hernandez was acquitted.
Hernandez did not raise CTE in his defense at either trial because he claimed actual innocence.
“It’s something I deeply regret,” Baez said.
Hernandez played for the University of Florida and helped the program win a national title in 2008. In three seasons with the Patriots, he and Rob Gronkowski formed one of the best tight end duos in the NFL. In 2011, his second season, Hernandez caught 79 passes for 910 yards and seven touchdowns to help the franchise reach the Super Bowl.
The Patriots released him in 2013, shortly after he was arrested in the murder of semi-pro football player Odin Lloyd who was dating the sister of Hernandez’s fiancee.
NORTH ATTLEBORO, MA – AUGUST 22: Aaron Hernandez is escorted into the courtroom of the Attleboro District Court for his hearing on August 22, 2013 in North Attleboro, Massachusetts. Former New England Patriot Aaron Hernandez has been indicted on a first-degree murder charge for the death of Odin Lloyd. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)