Another Dead Professional Athlete With CTE
In its search (some might say crusade) to link repetitive head injury with chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, in professional sports, Boston University’s Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy revealed that another NHL player, NY Rangers’ enforcer Derek Boogaard, had the condition at a remarkably advanced stage. Boogaard died in May of this year, at the age of 28, as a result of an overdose of alcohol and prescription narcotics, and the Center solicited Boogaard’s family to examine the athlete’s brain. The results of the examination, which are convincingly described and displayed in a multipart NYT video piece, were reported by the paper on December 3rd. Boogaard is now the fourth NHL player with the condition in the Center’s case series of this particular sport.*
Among the disturbing facets of the NYT coverage, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman downplays the risk of brain injury as a result of brawling in his league* and minimizes the Center’s research as “preliminary” and “great for headlines.” One is reminded of neurologist Ira Casson’s essential denial of the association between repetitive head injury and CTE in January of 2010. Casson was co-chairman of the NFL’s panel on brain injury until he resigned November of 2009, largely owing to his perceived insensitivity toward a possible link.
* The Center’s case series of NFL players with CTE, 13 of 14, is substantially larger.
** Which he, inexplicably, denies is allowed.