The days leading up to Sunday’s Super Bowl 50 have been the usual spectacle of festive interviews, parties and celebrities. But now those three letters that have been haunting the NFL have popped up again.
Former Oakland Raiders quarterback Ken Stabler, who died in July, was added this week to the growing lineup of NFL players afflicted by the brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy, thought to be caused by repeated blows to the head.
Denver Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall was bothered when he heard the news during his Super Bowl preparations.
“You’ve got to look after yourself because, really, nobody else will,” Marshall told The Associated Press, adding that he has heard about players walking away from football.
“The game is so much a part of who I am, so I can’t give up a big part of me. I just hope the game doesn’t one day take away a big part of me.”
In a study released in October, 87 of 91 former NFL players who donated their brains to science tested positive for the disease. Researchers have so far found CTE in men who played every position except kicker.
“While we know on average that certain positions experience more repetitive head impacts and are more likely at greater risk for CTE, no position is immune,” said Ann McKee, a neurology professor at Boston University who studied Stabler’s brain.
The death in 2013 of football player Michael Keck, a former star at Harrisonville High, threw a new spin on the increasingly loud CTE discussion — he was only 25 when he died and never played pro football. (Read Sam Mellinger’s story here.)