NFL Hall of Famer and sportscaster Frank Gifford was a victim of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), a disease linked to multiple concussions and head trauma, his family announced.
The former New York Giants star was diagnosed after his family donated his brain for study following his death in August at age 84.
“We as a family made the difficult decision to have his brain studied in hopes of contributing to the advancement of medical research concerning the link between football and traumatic brain injury,” the Gifford family said in a statement.
The symptoms of CTE include memory loss, confusion, impaired judgment, impulse-control problems, aggression, depression, anxiety, suicide and progressive dementia, according to Boston University. Symptoms often begin years or even decades after the last brain trauma.
Frank played halfback, wide receiver and defensive back for the Giants from 1952-’64, and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1977.
He missed the entire 1961 season after a tremendous hit from Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Chuck Bednarik left him unconscious on the field in 1960.
Frank “experienced first-hand” the cognitive and behavioral symptoms linked to CTE, the family statement said. “Our suspicions that he was suffering from the debilitating effects of head trauma were confirmed when a team of pathologists recently diagnosed his condition.”
The popular star was committed to promoting player safety, dating back to his key role in creating the NFL Players Association in 1956.
After retiring from the NFL, Frank became a sportscaster, first for CBS and then eventually the co-host of ABC’s “Monday Night Football” until 1985.
Shortly before his death, Frank devoted himself to understanding the connection between “repetitive head trauma and its associated cognitive and behavioral symptoms,” his family said, “which he experienced firsthand.”
The latest figures released by researchers indicate 87 of the 91 former NFL players tested post-mortem suffered from CTE.