Former NFL star Vincent Jackson may have been dead in a hotel room for as long as three days before he was discovered, as his family confirm that his brain was donated for CTE research to help understand the cause of his death.
Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Jackson, 38, was found dead in the Brandon, Florida hotel Monday but may have passed away several days before he was found according to new details released by the Hillsborough County Medical Examiner on Thursday.
The new details into Jackson’s death came on the same day that his family released a statement to ESPN to say that they had donated his brain to medical science in a bid to further analysis into the role that chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) may have played in his death.
CTE has become a developing narrative in many full contact sports such as the NFL and mixed martial arts as more and more athletes detail the negative impacts that brain injuries sustained during athletic careers have had in later life.
According to the initial timeline of events as announced by the medical examiner’s office, Jackson was subject to a welfare check on January 12. Then, on each of the following two days, hotel staff entered Jackson’s hotel room to discover him slumped on a couch but the report states that staff “assumed he was sleeping” and left him alone.
On February 15 hotel staff again entered his room and discovered that Jackson had not moved from his position. At this point, staff called for medical assistance. There were no obvious signs of injury except for a small cut on one of Jackson’s toes.
Jackson had checked in to the hotel on February 11 – on the same day that missing persons report was filed by his family. Deputies gained contact with Jackson on February 12 and determined that he was of sound health and called off the missing person’s report.
The initial medical inquest in Jackson’s death said it was “pending further study”, meaning that a direct cause had not yet been determined. No medications were found on the scene, while Thursday’s updated medical report stated that Jackson had engaged in the use of alcohol and smokeless tobacco use – while no illegal drugs were discovered.
“There cannot be a rush to judgment in determining cause and manner of death,” Michelle Van Dyke, a spokesperson for the Hillsborough County Medical Examiner, announced in a statement. “At this time, there is no timeframe for the completion of the autopsy report for Mr. Jackson, though the Medical Examiner anticipates it may take several months.”
The donation of Jackson’s brain for CTE research, his family say, was done in order to potentially help future athletes from understanding the risks inherent to physical sports like the NFL.
“If anything can be learned from his death that might help someone else, Vincent would want that since he was passionate during his life about impacting others around him,” family spokesperson Allison Gorrell said to ESPN.