Reports surfaced Tuesday that two former professional athletes suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).
Tests showed former BMX star Dave Mirra and former NFL defensive end Bubba Smith both dealt with the degenerative brain issue as a result of head trauma sustained during their careers.
Mirra committed suicide in February 2016. Smith died from acute drug intoxication and heart disease in August 2011.
They are two more names added to the increasingly extensive list of former professional athletes with CTE. Smith is the 90th former NFL player found to have CTE by researchers at the Boston University brain bank; they have examined 94 former pro players.
This latest news has former Jacksonville Jaguars and Baltimore Ravens offensive lineman Will Rackley concerned.
Rackley had to retire from the NFL in 2014 after sustaining three concussions in a nine-month timespan. He has dealt with the effects of post-concussion syndrome on a daily basis since his last football-related concussion on July 24, 2014.
“Right now dealing with the issues I’m dealing with, I’m a prime candidate for CTE,” Rackley, 26, said. “A lot of guys may have CTE and live normal lives, but with my issues I’ve been having every day for the last couple of years it’s concerning what might happen over the next 5 or 10 years.”
There is much still unknown regarding CTE, but according to the Alzheimer’s Association website: potential signs of CTE are problems with thinking and memory, personality changes, and behavioral changes including aggression and depression. People may not experience potential signs of CTE until years or decades after brain injuries occur. A definitive diagnosis of CTE can only be made after death, when an autopsy can reveal whether the known brain changes of CTE are present.
While Rackley said he doesn’t have mood swings or feels depressed, he is frustrated.
He is afflicted with his symptoms on a daily basis — migraines, dizziness, nausea. Something as common as staring at his phone too long can trigger a headache.
Not only is he frustrated with his physical state, going through the trials and tribulations of trying to remedy it have been equally discouraging. Rackley has had countless injections from Botox to nerve blockers. He has taken a slew of medications.
Still, he has headaches.
“I am frustrated, but I don’t show it or react upon it,” Rackley said. “At the same time it’s almost like it’s part of my life and I just deal with it. It’s frustrating just feeling bad all the time.
“I’m leaving it in God’s hands. I could be in a worse position. I know people who deal with things that are way worse than what I’m dealing with. At the end of the day I feel I’m blessed so I’m not going to complain.”