Researchers at Boston University have discovered 28 new cases of chronic brain damage in deceased football players -- including 15 who played in the NFL -- more than doubling the number of documented cases connecting football to long-term brain disease.
The NFL players include two Hall of Famers: running back Ollie Matson, who played 14 seasons in the 1950s and 1960s, and Colts tight end John Mackey, who played 10 seasons and once served as the head of the NFL players' union. Both died last year after suffering from dementia.
The study examined brain tissue from 85 people with a history of repetitive head trauma, including military veterans, boxers and football and hockey players. Some of the cases had been previously reported. Sixty-eight were found to have chronic traumatic encephalopathy -- a degenerative brain disorder linked to memory loss, depression and dementia.
According to the study, the BU researchers now have 50 confirmed cases of former football players with CTE -- 33 who played in the NFL, one in the CFL, one semi-professionally, nine through college and six who played only through high school. That included Nathan Stiles, 17, who died of a subdural hematoma after a hit in a 2010 high school homecoming game in Spring Hill, Kan.