It’s been nearly eight months since Denver Broncos legend Demaryius Thomas died suddenly at the age of 33. Doctors at Boston University noted DT had Stage 2 C.T.E., but they believe the likely cause of death was due to seizure.
On Tuesday, doctors from Boston University announced that Thomas was posthumously diagnosed with Stage 2 C.T.E., but his life and death were also complicated by seizures brought on by a 2019 car crash. They attacked with little or no warning and led Thomas to wreck other cars and fall down steps. The coroner’s office in Fulton County, Ga., has not yet ruled on the cause of his death, but doctors in Boston said he most likely died after a seizure.
“He had two different conditions in parallel,” said Dr. Ann McKee, the neuropathologist who studied Thomas’s brain. She added that seizures were not generally associated with C.T.E.
The NFL has put in protections to help mitigate short-term and long-term effects of concussions and hard hits incurred while playing football, with the hopes of curbing C.T.E. among players.
But with so many of those protections helping players still living and/or playing, there isn’t enough time to study whether those protections have worked enough. And while C.T.E. may not have been a direct cause in DT’s death, he played a majority of his career during a period of time in the NFL when increased player safety has been emphasized - primarily for quarterbacks.
The result of this study should raise plenty of concerns over the long-term impact of the game on the mental and physical health of players and prompt continued discussions on how rules are or are not promoting safety of all players.