Vincent Jackson's family donates his brain for CTE research

Former NFL wide receiver Vincent Jackson as seen in December 2012 when he played for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.


By DES BIELER | The Washington Post | Published: February 20, 2021

Vincent Jackson's brain was donated for research to discover whether he had chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a family spokeswoman confirmed.

The former NFL wide receiver was found dead Monday in a Tampa-area hotel room. Jackson, who played for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and San Diego Chargers during a 12-year career, was 38 years old.

The New York Times was first to report that Jackson's brain will be studied at Boston University, known for its CTE research and extensive brain bank. The neurodegenerative disease has been linked to concussions and subconcussive impacts, which are frequently suffered by football players over many years in the sport.

Family spokeswoman Allison Gorrell told The Washington Post on Friday via email, "If anything can be learned from his death that might help someone else, Vincent would want that since he was passionate during his life about impacting others around him."

A preliminary report issued Thursday by the Hillsborough County Medical Examiner Department indicated (per WFLA) that Jackson might have been dead for as many as three days before his death was determined on Monday. Hotel employees who entered his room Saturday and Sunday found him sitting on a couch in a slouched-over position and "assumed he was sleeping and left the room," the examiner's office reportedly stated. When he hadn't moved from that position Monday, the hotel called 911.

Jackson's family had called the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office last week to report him missing, and he was last confirmed alive Friday (per ESPN), when deputies contacted him at the hotel. The missing-persons case was canceled at that point.

There were no signs of trauma, according to the report, and the cause of death has yet to be determined.

News of Jackson's death stunned the football world, as well as the Tampa-area community, where he was known for his charitable endeavors in addition to his athletic prowess.

"Vincent was a dedicated father, husband, businessman and philanthropist," Buccaneers owner Bryan Glazer said Monday in a statement, "who made a deep impact on our community through his unyielding advocacy for military families, supported by the Jackson in Action 83 Foundation."

A son of two military parents, Jackson excelled in high school as a student and an athlete in Colorado Springs before playing at Northern Colorado. He was drafted by the Chargers in the second round in 2005, and he went on to make three Pro Bowls while recording six 1,000-yard seasons between San Diego and Tampa Bay.

Signs of CTE, which can only be diagnosed posthumously, were found in 99% of the brains donated by families of former NFL players in a 2017 Boston University study. The school's center for CTE research describes symptoms of the disease which include: memory loss, confusion, impaired judgment, impulse control problems, aggression, depression, suicidality, parkinsonism and progressive dementia.