The family of Hall of Fame running back Frank Gifford says signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy were found in his brain after his death in August. The diagnosis, which can be made only after death, has been linked to the deaths of other famous football players, including Mike Webster, Junior Seau and Dave Duerson.
Gifford's family said it hopes the announcement of the diagnosis leads to more research about head trauma in football, according to NBC News:
"We as a family made the difficult decision to have [Gifford's] brain studied in hopes of contributing to the advancement of medical research concerning the link between football and traumatic brain injury.
"Our suspicions that he was suffering from the debilitating effects of head trauma were confirmed when a team of pathologists recently diagnosed his condition as that of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) — a progressive degenerative brain disease."
After playing college football at the University of Southern California, Gifford played for the New York Giants from 1952 to 1964. He made the Pro Bowl in eight of his 12 NFL seasons. Gifford also went on to enjoy a successful career as a broadcaster. He married talk show host Kathie Lee Gifford in 1986.
The Gifford family's CTE announcement comes days after concussions once again dominated NFL news. During Sunday's game against the Baltimore Ravens, St. Louis Rams quarterback Case Keenum suffered a concussion when his head was slammed to the ground. Though he was visibly dazed and unable to stand up on his own after the hit, he was left in the game for the next two downs. The incident prompted an NFL investigation and a mandatory conference call with head athletic trainers from each team to review concussion protocols.