Jovan Belcher’s brain reportedly showed signs of CTE
Jovan Belcher, the former Kansas City Chiefs linebacker who shot and killed his girlfriend nearly two years ago before committing suicide, may have suffered from a condition known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy.
According to ESPN’s Outside the Lines, Dr. Piotr Kozlowski, a neuropathologist, wrote in a report that he detected neurofibrillary tangles of tau protein in Belcher’s brain after his body was exhumed a year after his death. Kozlowki said the tangles were found in the hippocampus, the area of the brain that deals with memory, learning and emotion.
Belcher is one of a number of former NFL players who have been diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, after death. Former NFL linebacker Junior Seau, who took his own life by shooting himself in the chest in May 2012, was also diagnosed with CTE.
Several reports indicated that Belcher drank nightly and seemed depressed before he committed suicide.
Belcher’s mother, Cheryl Shepherd, is the one who initiated the process of having her son’s body exhumed so his brain could be studied. While her attorney would not reveal the reason that Kozlowski’s results have been released nine months after the diagnosis, OTL noted that Belcher’s daughter and mother would be eligible for up to $4 million from the NFL under the proposed concussion settlement between the league and a number of former players if it is determined that Belcher had CTE.
The lawyers representing Belcher’s young daughter have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the Chiefs. Belcher’s mother has filed her own separate suit, alleging that Belcher was knocked unconscious during a game against the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2009 and did not receive proper treatment. The lawsuit also claims Belcher “suffered what should have been recognized as an acute concussion” in a game against the Cincinnati Bengals in 2012 but was never removed from the game “despite exhibiting obvious symptoms.”