The autopsy report of former NFL quarterback Cullen Finnerty, which was released earlier this month, confirmed what many people feared: the presence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). CTE is a terrible degenerative brain condition that has been found in dozens of former football players and in the case of Finnerty, is seen as a contributing cause of his death.
Finnerty, who was only 30 years old and had played with both the Baltimore Ravens and the Denver Broncos, was found dead in Lake County, Michigan back in May after failing to return home from a fishing trip. When police arrived on the scene there were no signs of foul play or any markings on his body that would suggest that he had tried to harm himself. Finnerty’s body was discovered nearly a half-mile away from the cabin he had been staying in while fishing.
The pathologist who conducted Finnerty’s autopsy concluded that the official cause of death was pneumonia caused by inhalation of vomit. Though Finnerty had been drinking at the time, the medical examiner said the level of alcohol in his blood was negligible, only 0.01 percent, and did not contribute to his death. Though the official cause of death was pneumonia, the report makes clear that Finnerty suffered disorientation and paranoia while lost in the woods which was brought on in part by the oxycodone he had been taking as well as CTE.
Experts say it was unlikely that CTE alone led to Finnerty’s death. Instead, many people think CTE could have affected Finnerty’s judgment and behavior that day in the woods, but other factors, like medication, would have to be taken into account.
CTE is a neurological condition that scientists think is caused by multiple severe blows to the head. CTE is responsible for memory loss, dementia, depression and confusion. CTE was only recently discovered and has been found in especially large numbers among former football players and professional boxers, two groups that are known for sustaining repeated traumatic brain injuries. A study conducted by researchers in Boston discovered the presence of CTE in 34 former NFL players whose families agreed to have their brains studied after their death.
Pope McGlamry, currently represents former professional football players and their families for injuries and damages sustained as a result of suffering concussions while playing professional football and is actively involved in the current concussion litigation. If you or someone you love has been injured during your professional football career, you may be entitled to compensation.
Source: “Pneumonia Seen as Star’s Cause of Death,” by Greg Bishop, published at NYTimes.com.
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