Tests Confirm Ex-Giants Safety Tyler Sash Had Advanced CTE
According to researchers at Boston University and the Concussion Legacy Foundation, former New York Giants and Iowa Hawkeyes safety Tyler Sash suffered from unusually advanced CTE for somebody his age.
Sash played football for Iowa from 2007 to 2010, earning first team All-Big Ten honors in his final season. After that he was drafted by the Giants in the sixth round of the 2011 NFL Draft, winning a Super Bowl ring his rookie season. However, after he suffered what was at least his fifth concussion during a preseason game in 2013, the Giants cut Sash, effectively ending his football career.
At that point Sash moved back to his hometown of Oskaloosa, Iowa. But despite being a local sports hero, he was unable to hold a job on account of memory loss, bouts of confusion, and fits of temper.
Tragically, on September 8, Sash was found dead in his Iowa home at the age of 27. Lab reports indicated that he had a lethal mix of methadone and hydrocodone in his system. His death was officially ruled an “accidental drug toxicity” by the medical examiner, who said Sash’s history of chronic shoulder pain, coupled with a recent dislocation, were significant factors in his death.
Sash’s family had previously assumed that his change in mood and erratic behavior were the results of the drugs he was taking to cope with his injuries. However, after his death they donated his brain to be tested for chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, the degenerative brain disease caused by repeated head trauma often found in former football players.
According to Dr. Ann McKee, a professor of neurology and pathology at the Boston University School of Medicine, the severity of the CTE found in Sash’s brain was rare for somebody his age. CTE is graded on a scale of 0 to 4. Sash, apparently, was at stage 2, the same stage Junior Seau was when he died at the age of 43.
Although the findings bring a bit of closure for Sash’s family, they are more bad news for the football industry.
“Even though he was only 27, he played 16 years of football,” explained Dr. McKee. “And we’re finding over and over that it’s the duration of exposure to football that gives you a high risk for C.T.E. Certainly, 16 years is a high exposure.”
Hat Tip – [New York Times]