There is "no question" Ken Stabler had CTE, the doctor that examined the late NFL great's brain after his death last year told ESPN's "Outside the Lines."
CTE, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy, is a degenerative brain disease believed to be caused by repeated blows to the head. Researching the condition is difficult, however, because it can only be diagnosed upon the examination of the brain after death, the sports site noted.
Stabler, nicknamed "The Snake" during his playing days as quarterback of the Oakland Raiders, agreed before his death on July 10 to have his brain examined. At 69, he died of complications of colon cancer, according to ESPN.
Dr. Ann McKee, the physician who examined Stabler's brain, told "Outside the Lines" that the quarterback suffered from Stage 3 CTE, which was widespread throughout his brain.
"He had very substantial lesions," McKee told the program. "They were widespread. They were very classic. There was no question about the diagnosis. And in some parts of the brain, they were very well established, meaning that he'd had it probably for quite some time."
Kim Bush, Stabler's longtime partner, told "Outside the Lines" that he showed signs of cognitive impairment and suffered from headaches in his 60s.
"The Concussion Legacy Foundation would like to thank the Stabler family for pursuing the study of Mr. Stabler's brain according to his wishes, and for disclosing his CTE diagnosis," the foundation said in a statement Wednesday.
"The choice to support CTE research and raise awareness of its debilitating effects is courageous and appreciated. Brain donation is a critical first step in understanding and eventually having treatments for CTE," the statement continued.
Stabler's free-spirted, renegade personality on and off the football field came to define the entire Oakland Raiders team in the 1970s, leading the club to a 1977 Super Bowl victory. He was awarded the NFL's most valuable player award in 1974, according to The New York Times
, and played a total of 15 seasons in the NFL, ended it with the New Orleans Saints in 1984.
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