One of the biggest clouds hanging over the NFL in recent years has been the growing specter of head injuries, concussions, and CTE. As more and more former players reveal they are living with dementia and other degenerative brain diseases, the game of football has had to face some tough questions about player safety and what is being done to prevent this terrible illness.
Right now, it is impossible to know how many NFL players have CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) because the diagnosis can only be confirmed after death. But increasingly, players are leaving their brains to science to study the disease, making the connection between CTE and football clearer by the day.
The 52 NFL players on this list were all confirmed to have been suffering from CTE. Some of them died of natural causes but debilitated by disease, while others like Junior Seau and Adrian Robinson have been added to the growing list of NFL players with CTE who killed themselves.
As the years go on and this list grows, the NFL will be forced to reckon with the years of trauma players have suffered while playing a game, many since before even high school. There has been a CTE settlement with some families, but there will likely be many more before the issue is put to bed.
Date of birth: July 17, 1971
Date of death: September 4, 2018 (aged 47)
NFL career: 1995-1996
Date of birth: January 8, 1957
Date of death: June 4, 2018 (aged 61)
NFL career: 1979–1987 (player), 1990-2001 (executive)
Date of birth: June 12, 1987
Date of death: October 29, 2017 (aged 30)
NFL career: 2010-2013