Seven former Michigan State University football players diagnosed with CTE

According to new data released on Wednesday, 138 players from over 100 college football programs have been diagnosed with Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy. Michigan State University had more players (7) with discovered cases of CTE in former players than any other university. Players representing every Power 5 conference have been diagnosed and the Big Ten has 22 total.

CTE was defined by Dr. Jon Lieff in a DSN Exclusive interview about concussions as:

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is the name given to brain changes that occur after multiple concussions. It is not the same as other degenerative brain damage such as Alzheimer’s, multiple strokes and Parkinson’s. But, like these other dementias, currently it cannot be measured while the person is alive.  It can only be defined and observed by looking at brains of people who have died. Like the other degenerative dementias, it involves abnormal molecules that accumulate along with inflammation.

An astonishing 91 percent (131 of the 152) of the studied cases have been found to contain evidence of CTE.

This latest data set comes from the VA-BU-CLF which is a combined research effort of the Veterans Administration, Boston University, and the Concussion Legacy Foundation. Chris Nowinski, CEO of CLF, offered this explanation for the data release:

“This information is being released to raise awareness that CTE is not just an issue for professional football players,” said Chris Nowinski, co-founder and CEO of the Concussion Legacy Foundation. “The data should not be interpreted to say that players from these schools are at greater risk than other college players. Instead, the data shows the widespread reach of this disease, and the commitment by the alumni and their families of these schools to support CTE research by participating in brain donation.”

Only three of the seven former MSU players have had their identities publicized. Those players include Dick Proebstle, Earl Morrall, and Bubba Smith.

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Proebstle played quarterback for the Spartans during the 1960s. His collegiate career was cut short due to complications from concussions. Michigan State won a national championship (1955) and won a Rose Bowl (1956) with Morrall under center. He also had a long career in the NFL. Smith was a No. 1 pick in the NFL draft after a stellar career for the Spartans and died in 2011.

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