Vincent Jackson, the former Tampa Bay Buccaneers and San Diego Chargers wide receiver who was found dead in a hotel room in February at just 38 years old, had Stage 2 CTE at the time of his death, his family announced in the New York Times on Thursday.
Jackson’s widow, Lindsey, donated her husband’s brain to the CTE Center at Boston University so it could be studied. What they discovered, according to Dr. Anne McKee, who did the study on Jackson’s brain, was “mild frontal lobe atrophy” and a “split in the internal membrane,” as well as multiple lesions on the brain. That would have caused symptoms like memory loss, mood swings, and difficulties solving problems and completing daily chores.
Lindsey told the Times that her husband had been showing these symptoms since 2016, his final season in the NFL.
She said that, beginning with his final year in the N.F.L., her husband began to forget conversations. He showed symptoms of depression for about six months after leaving the league, and without the structure of the football season, he no longer had to temper his drinking. By 2018, when he was 35, his attention span had diminished and he had difficulty solving problems. She said he became paranoid, shutting the blinds when he was home.
When the pandemic hit, Lindsey said that Jackson’s stress and drinking increased. He had several business ventures, like restaurants, and worried about having to lay people off. His favorite activity, networking, wasn’t the same anymore since every business meeting was virtual. By Jan. 2021 his drinking got so bad that his young children began to notice, which is when Jackson moved to the hotel where he eventually died.
Jackson’s body was found by housekeepers on Feb. 15, just a week after his former team won the Super Bowl. According to Lindsey, the Bucs’ successful 2020 season had been a source of joy for him, but it had also reminded him of the losing seasons he had during his five years with the team.