Former NFL wide receiver Vincent Jackson succumbed to “chronic alcohol use,” as officially determined by the Hillsborough County (Florida) Medical Examiner. The information comes shortly after the Concussion Legacy Foundation also gave him a postmortem diagnosis of Stage 2 chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), correlated with repeated impact to the head.
Jackson, 38, was discovered in February of this year by a hotel housekeeper, but no foul play was suspected at that time. Although he had no reports of alcohol-related incidents during his tenure with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Jackson’s first seven years in the NFL weren’t as smooth. He was arrested on suspicion of DUI twice while a member of the San Diego Chargers, and the team summarily suspended Jackson for the first three games of their 2010 season.
Interestingly, Jackson was never diagnosed with a single concussion throughout his twelve-year career, a point he often noted. But he was found to have a blood alcohol content of 0.28% by the examiner at the time of his death. Jackson also had a slew of other conditions including alcoholic cardiomyopathy, ascites, jaundice, and renal failure. However, the confirmation of CTE came after Jackson’s family donated his brain to the Boston University CTE Center, as it can only be made posthumously.
The 3x Pro Bowler may have retired from the gridiron three years ago, but he was beloved for his work off the field. Jackson was a proud son of military parents, so he and his wife Lindsey created the Jackson in Action 83 Foundation. The nonprofit was set up to help military families, with particular attention to the educational, emotional, and physical health of their children. The couple also penned three books that focused on assisting military children with the unique up-and-downs they may face growing up.
“It’s not the ending he wanted,” Jackson’s widow told the New York Times. “I think the message is, if you played for a long time and you’re experiencing symptoms, it’s very likely that [CTE] is what it is… I didn’t know that; Vincent didn’t know that. We thought it was just concussions, and we’d love for people to realize it’s more than that.”