Search for answers. Researchers claim that the late NFL athlete Demarius Thomas suffered from CTE, a degenerative brain disease, before his death.
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A group of doctors from Boston University studied Thomas’ brain after his death and published their findings on Tuesday, July 5. Neurologist Dr. Ann McKee told ABC News that the former Denver Broncos player probably had a seizure, although his official cause of death has not yet been confirmed by medical examiners.
Dr. McKee explained that CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) does not often lead to death, telling the publication: “You are not dying from CTE. What CTE does is change your behavior and your personality.”
The Denver Broncos, where Thomas played for eight years, announced his “sudden and tragic death” in December 2021. he was loved by our entire organization, his teammates, coaches and our fans. Having recently left the Broncos, we were looking forward to celebrating Demarius for many years to come as one of the greatest players in the history of the franchise,” reads a statement posted on Twitter. “We have lost an incredible player and a special person in the person of Demarius Thomas. Our hearts and deepest condolences go out to the Thomas family and everyone who is grieving this unimaginable loss.”
The team added: “Demarius’ modesty, warmth, kindness and infectious smile will always be remembered by those who knew and loved him.”
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Thomas was found dead at his home in Roswell, Georgia, shortly before his 34th birthday. His former New England Patriots teammate Tom Brady honored the big receiver’s legacy with a touching tribute, tweeting along with a selfie: “We have all been blessed with his humility and positive attitude, and we will all miss him. This photo from the Hall of Fame last August, as always a light source. to tear.”
CNN reported at the time that authorities had responded to the medical problem, but no specific details were made public. According to Thomas’ family, the two-time AFC champion began having seizures after he was in a car accident in 2019.
“His mood would change and he would also isolate himself at times,” his mother, Katina Stuckey Smith, told ABC News. “He’s like, ‘Mom, I don’t know what’s going on with my body. You know, I have to pull myself together,” and he said: “I don’t feel like myself anymore.”
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Although seizures are not a typical side effect of CTE, which is caused by repeated blows to the head, Thomas also had more well-known symptoms of cognitive illness, including memory loss, paranoia and other erratic behaviors.
Thomas retired from the NFL in June 2021 after 10 seasons, most of which he spent playing for the Broncos. He helped the team win the Super Bowl against the Carolina Panthers in 2016 and participated in four Pro Bowls during his career. Along with the Broncos and Patriots, the Georgia Tech graduate also played for the Houston Texans and New York Jets.
Thomas called his retirement a “difficult decision” a few months before his death, noting in a June 2021 statement: “Always as a child or whenever I did something, I always [did] my best to go, go and go. And football was my goal. Every year I tried to get better and better, and of course I knew I was getting old. It was something hard, but I am grateful that I spent 10-11 years. I’m so grateful for that, and now I can move on. I’m happy, I’m healthy. And now I can try to find my next itch.”