Safety in spotlight in NFL after study reveals brain trauma in Giants player


New York (AFP)

Health risks faced by National Football League players were back in the spotlight Wednesday after research revealed that former New York Giants safety Tyler Sash suffered brain damage before his death.

Sash, 27, died last September from an accidental overdose of pain medication he had been taking for a chronic shoulder injury.

The New York Times reported that researchers from Boston University discovered Sash suffered from a high level of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) after the player's brain was donated for study by his family.

CTE is graded on a scale of 0 to 4 and Sash, who played only two seasons in the NFL -- winning a Super Bowl with the Giants in 2012 -- had progressed to Stage 2.

Sash, who was suspended for four games in 2012 for violating the NFL's performance-enhancing substances policy, played 27 games for the Giants. He also played 37 games at the University of Iowa.

The Times report cited family members as saying that Sash suffered from "confusion, memory loss and minor fits of temper" after his release from the Giants in 2013.

Sash was released after suffering concussion in a pre-season game against the New England Patriots.

Family members told the Times Sash suffered multiple concussions in high school, one in college and two in the NFL.

"Now it makes sense," the player's mother Barnetta Sash told the Times.

"The part of the brain that controls impulses, decision-making and reasoning was damaged badly."

CTE is believed to be caused by head trauma that can result in memory loss, dementia and depression.

CTE in the NFL has been an ongoing issue in America's most popular sport after mounting evidence over the long-term brain damage to players.

In April last year, the NFL agreed to settle a lawsuit and pay $765 million to about 5,000 former players over health claims.

A Hollywood movie starring Will Smith as the neuropathologist who helped make the link between concussions sustained by NFL players and CTE was released in theaters last year.