With the recent news of Johnny Manziel contemplating suicide, it made me think of stories where several former NFL stars did in fact commit suicide. This is serious matter and something that must be looked into. Mental health is a serious matter, and discussing it in a respectful manner is crucial.
There are many players that have suffered from CTE. (CTE) has been found in 345 of 376 former NFL players’ brains, according to a 2023 report by the Boston University CTE Center, which has led the effort to diagnose CTE cases.
Here are a list of six football players who suffered from CTE and decided to take their own lives.
- Junior Seau (San Diego Chargers, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots) – Seau tragically took his own life with a gunshot wound to the chest in 2012 when he was just 43 years old. About a year later, it was officially released that he was diagnosed with advanced CTE following an examination of his brain.
- Dave Duerson (Chicago Bears, New York Giants, Phoenix Cardinals, Miami Dolphins) – At age 50, Duerson died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest. Following his request, his brain was sent to the Boston University School of Medicine for research on CTE.
- Andre Waters (Philadelphia Eagles, Arizona Cardinals) – Waters was regarded as one of the NFL’s most aggressive players, serving as an integral part of one of the league’s top defenses. On November 20, 2006, Waters died by suicide and was subsequently diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).
- Jovan Belcher (Kansas City Chiefs) – Belcher, who was just 25 years old at the time, fatally shot his 22-year-old girlfriend, Kasandra Perkins, in their home. He then drove to the Chiefs’ practice facility and shot himself in the parking lot after staff members were unable to talk him out of it. He was diagnosed with CTE following an autopsy.
- Aaron Hernandez (New England Patriots) – Hernandez was charged with first-degree murder in the death of Odin Lloyd and was sentenced to life in prison. He committed suicide in his jail cell at just 27 years old and was later diagnosed with CTE.
- Phillips Adams (San Francisco 49ers) – In 2021, at just 32 years old, Adams took his own life after a standoff with police. He shot six people, killing five of them, before shooting himself a few days later. Adams had no previous criminal record or any history of violence. His autopsy revealed an advanced case of CTE.
Additionally, if you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide or emotional distress, please reach out to a mental health professional or a helpline in your country.
I wrote this article because a mentor of mine Chuck Crist died back in 2020. He was my high school principal and a legend at my high school. He was one of the 345 players that was diagnosed with CTE, which resulted from repeated hits to his head. Please keep all these families in your prayers, because CTE is real and scary.