Aaron Hernandez: Stage 3 CTE

THIS JUST IN: The results of a post-mortem study on Aaron Hernandez’s brain were just released this morning and Dr. Ann McKee’s team at Boston University disclosed that he had advanced Stage 3 CTE. Stage 3 is typically found in much older players in their 60’s and 70’s so this discovery is alarming. Hernandez had apparently committed suicide this past April in his jail cell where he was serving a life sentence for the murder of his friend, Odin Lloyd, in 2013.

I’ve had an ongoing discussion with many players as well as brain doctors regarding links between sociopathy and football. So many players drift into sociopathic behavior as their front lobes sustain the greatest damage from sustained hits over their careers. And we’ve also heard about erratic behavior from all too many players’ spouses and families about the changes in their personalities and the effects on their daily lives.

Hernandez’s fiancée is filing a lawsuit against the NFL and the Patriots on behalf of their young daughter and this case may bring some new twists to how CTE is viewed. Many of Hernandez’s former teammates as well as old friends have discussed his violent nature even as a young child, while others have pointed out that he had wanted to play football since the age of 3.

A few of you have had side discussions with me about the prevalence of sociopaths at all levels of football from rookies to stars, along with coaches and owners. It’s estimated that sociopaths make up 4% of our general population in society but naturally there are many professions and occupations that will certainly appeal to them more than others (think cops, lawyers, judges, CEOs). It’s always about power and control. And money. For a football player, where else could you get the attention and glory from large crowds for violent behavior? And does anyone believe that only 4% of all the billionaires in the world are sociopaths? And how about coaches who control and direct the actions of these men on the field? While I’m not saying that all football players are sociopaths, does anyone doubt that many are in the game for the glory of their violent behavior. But for many players, the accumulation of concussions and constant hits both in practice and on the field eventually lead to permanent damage to the brain, especially to the front lobe, as shown in Dr. Amen’s study from nearly 8 years ago (you can read Dr Amen’s observations on Huffington Post – click HERE) , followed by the ongoing CTE studies. And when the front lobe is less functional, your common sense and good judgment will either be impaired or – in many cases – no longer working. Which, for many family members, finally starts to make sense. We’ve even posted many strange stories here over the years.

So you have the NFL with sociopaths at every level from players to coaches to owners. Then you have other players who evolve into sociopathic behavior because of brain injuries, much to the bewilderment of those closest to them. And you add the millions of fans who couldn’t care less because of their love of the game which has now become a $15 billion industry today. And that’s not counting the gambling industry which is conservatively estimated to be well over $100 billion in football alone.

Does any of this start to make sense for some of you? Is this a discussion that needs to be expanded? And some of my closest friends in the football community are well aware of two sociopaths who have also tried to take me out of this battle for the retired players…


Aaron Hernandez: Stage 3 CTE — 2 Comments

  1. Don Brady Pointing

    Robert –

    Excerpts from a previous post that are related to the present issues – and please note the historical dates…


    Some of this pertinent history follows…

    129 AD circa 199 Galen

    Galen spent 5 years as a surgeon to gladiators and was aware of the behavioral consequences of brain damage
    (p. 4) Kolb & Whishaw (1996)


    1835 Gama

    fibres as delicate as those of which the organ of the mind is composed are liable to break as a result of violence to the head
    (cited by Strich 1961)

    1928 Marland, H. S.: Punch Drunk , JAMA 91: 1103 ( (Oct. 13)


    1933: The NCAA’s medical handbook is distributed to all member schools. It warns that concussions are treated too lightly, and recommends that concussed players receive rest and constant supervision, and not be allowed to play or practice until symptoms have been gone for 48 hours. For symptoms lasting longer than 48 hours, it recommends players “not be permitted to compete for 21 days or longer, if at all.” (source unkown…any info would be of value)


    1934…Strauss and Savitsky (1934) are credited with coining the phrase postconcussion syndrome (Evans, 1994), and they posited that not only may a concussion occur without a loss of consciousness, but that it has an organic basis. In their extensive 63-page review of the topic, they emphasized the importance of documenting clinical observations and of not quickly attributing vague or unusual findings to functional/psychological origins. The value of the clinical judgment was also highlighted in the following statement: “Results of tests and exact quotients cannot take the place of the opinion of an experienced clinician” (p. 912).

    The authors also reported that some physicians, who had personally experienced concussions themselves, changed their beliefs regarding the origin of postconcussion syndrome from a psychological basis to a physiological basis. Discussions among various physicians also gave credence to the existence of PCS: They reported similar clinical features and symptoms in their patients who neither conversed with other patients nor lived near each other.

    A more recent neurosurgeon’s personal experience with a concussion revealed that the doctor not only experienced long-term attending-to-task problems but also required more energy to complete various designated tasks (Marshall & Ruff, 1989).


    1935 C P Symonds, MD – Disturbance of Cerebral Function in Concussion – The Lancet

    [Concussion] symptoms will need to be estimated on their own merits. They may reasonably be regarded as evidence of structural damage (cerebral contusion), and, as Trotter (1923) was the first to emphasize, they quite commonly develop after a head injury without concussion [loss of consciousness].

    In every case of head injury with or without concussion, therefore, such symptoms should be watched for, and it should be remembered that a latent interval, often of some days, may precede their development.

    A question often debated is what should be the general rule for prescribing rest after a head injury. A time-honoured tradition incucates the need of three weeks in bed for any patient who has suffered a concussion. …
    … It would seem more reasonable to proceed upon the plan of treating each case on its merits. … In the case of mild concussion the patient should be kept in bed for 24 or 48 hours, and should then, if symptom-free, be allowed gradually to submit himself to more physical effort and mental stress, being allowed, if still symptom-free, to resumehis normal activitiesat the end of a few days — but still with the advice that he should return at once to his doctor if symptoms should develop In cases of mpre severe concussion the duration of rest will naturally be longer and convalescence to the point of normal activity more gradual, but the symptom-free patient may be allowed rapidly but gradually to resume his ordinary way of living as soon as he is able to do so, provided always that he is instructed to return at once for treatment should symptoms develop. Should the patient from the first or at any later time exhibit symptoms such as headache, giddiness, or mental debility, rest should be increased and prolonged and convalescence retarded until he is symptom-free — …
    (p. 487-488)


    1936 Punch Drunk — Carroll, J.R. American Journal of Med Sciences
    Punch drunk is said to occur among professional football players also (p. 709).

    Many authors have abandoned the stand that concussion is a transient disturbance of function without anatomic basis…(p. 709)

    There are found organic symptoms which appear to the layman as dementia (p. 711)

    The occurrence of this type of degenerative brain change must be recognized and publicized rather than disregarded and discounted (p. 711).

    It is especially important that athletes entering into competitions in which head [brain] injuries are frequent and knock-outs are common should realize that they are exposing themselves not only to immediate injury, but also to remote [down the road] and more sinister effects (p. 711).


    1937: At its annual meeting, the American Football Coaches Association declares that concussed players should immediately be taken out of a game. “Sports demanding personal contact should be eliminated after an individual has suffered a concussion.” (source unknown…any info would be of value)


    1938… Dr. A. Thorndike- New England Journal of Medicine…
    The ignorance of the laity of the serious complications that may follow a simple concussion of the brain is to be deplored. (p. 464)
    1940+++… CTE identified in the professional literature –
    Bowman & Blau coined the term

    Brain deterioration / chronic traumatic encephalopathy

    Don Brady, PhD, PsyD
    Licensed Clinical Psychologist

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