Former player Dave Duerson was found dead in 2011 from a self-inflicted gun wound to the chest. Prior to pulling the trigger, he texted his wife and left the following note: "Please, see that my brain is given to the NFL's brain bank." Neurologists at Boston University later confirmed that Duerson did suffer from CTE.
Former player Junior Seau also committed suicide the same way, gunshot to the chest. Seau's family was contacted by two of the foremost authorities on CTE, yet the NFL intervened to steer Seau's brain to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), four months before the NFL gave the institution a $30 million donation.
Forensic pathologist Bennett Omalu was originally tasked to perform Seau's autopsy, yet mid-procedure, Seau's son called and halted the operation. He said NFL had convinced him Omalu's research and ethics were bad.
Not surprisingly, the NFL had motives for the snub. In 2005, Omalu was the first researcher to diagnose brain damage in a former NFL player, but when he published his findings, the NFL went on the attack, arguing he was wrong.
"The league essentially kept the brain from going to the two neuropathologists who had done more studies on the brains of NFL players than anybody," said Fainaru-Wada. "I think that raises questions."
More recently, ex-player Paul Oliver was found dead with a self-inflicted gunshot wound. In the last nine years, 11 former NFL players have committed suicide.