Chris Henry Had Chronic Brain Damage Before He Died
Chris Henry Was Found to Have Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) Before He Died in December 2009
When Chris Henry died after falling from a pick-up truck in December 2009, he had chronic traumatic encephlaopathy, which is brain damage more often found in retired NFL players. Boxers who have taken repeated hits to the head are also found to have dementia pugilistica, which is the other name chronic traumatic encephlaopathy is known by.
It means that if a person has a sudden stop or hit to the head their brain can move around inside their skull and it can be accompanied by symptoms such as behavior problems, use of drugs, depression, thoughts of suicide and failure at personal and business relationships.
Chris Henry was known for being arrested a number of times, being suspended three times, and for the explosive relationship with his fiance Loleini Tonga. He even reportedly uttered threats of suicide to Loleini before he died.
Doctors examined Henry's brain tissue, which documents that there can be significant brain damage among NFL players as young as Henry. However, doctors did not draw a direct comparison between CTE and Henry's behavior.
Neurosurgeon Julian Bailes and California medical examiner Bennet Omalu, co-directors of the Brain Injury Research Institute at West Virginia, announced their findings alongside Henry's mother, Carolyn Henry Glaspy, who called it a "big shock" because she knew nothing about her 26-year-old son's underlying condition or the disease.
As Tim Keown from ESPN writes, Henry was never diagnosed with a concussion during his five years of playing in the NFL, but if Henry could suffer such brain damage, what does that mean to the average high school linebacker playing his way through school to get a football scholarship? Could they be at risk too?
It gets to the heart of our perception of the sport. Are you willing to accept a less violent game for the sake of the men who play it? To this point, most efforts to make the sport less damaging to its participants -- protection for the quarterback and defenseless receivers, to name two -- have been met with derision. Former players and the red-meat fan base start spewing the traditional macho lingo. Put a skirt on 'em and all that.
Is there a way to make sure what happened to Chris Henry doesn't happen to anyone else? Or would it change the game of football forever?