When he was alive, Bubba Smith was a defensive end for the Baltimore Colts (and, later, a star of the Police Academy films). But in the final years of his life, he displayed a significant cognitive decline, becoming unable to do simple things like paying his own bills or going shopping.
After Smith died in 2011 at age 66, he became part of an on-going effort to examine the brains of former NFL players to determine the consequences of all those repeated impacts that happen during play. Yesterday, researchers announced that Smith’s brain showed signs of stage 3 chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), the second-most severe form of the brain disease that has been linked to 90 former players, according to the New York Times. (A former BMX rider was also found to have the disease as well.)
According to Boston University, one of the institutions behind the research into CTE, the disease’s brain degeneration “is associated with memory loss, confusion, impaired judgment, impulse control problems, aggression, depression, and, eventually, progressive dementia.”