In February, the NFL world was shocked and saddened to hear the passing of former San Diego Chargers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Vincent Jackson. The three-time Pro Bowl player was found dead in his home on Feb. 15 in Bradenton, Florida.
It was first revealed that he had a common case of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), the debilitating brain disease that infects far too many retired NFL players and destroys their quality of life.
But it was also reported that he died from chronic alcohol use, another common disease that retired NFL athletes frequently succumb too. Often they are seeking relief from chronic pain related to their playing days or the results of brain trauma.
Vincent Jackson || "VJAX" || Career Highlights ᴴᴰ https://t.co/adQL2dxSke via @YouTube rip to goat that was underrated but a good wide receiver
— Kyrin Brown (@KyrinBrown2) February 15, 2021
The autopsy report revealed “Jackson suffered from alcoholic cardiomyopathy, hepatic steatosis, and fibrosis, esophageal varices, ascites, jaundice, remote pancreatitis, renal failure, hyponatremia dehydration, cardiovascular disease and intoxication by ethol alcohol” — all consistent with chronic alcohol use. The medical examiner found that he had a blood-alcohol content of 0.28 percent.
CTE And Chronic Alcoholism Were Jackson’s Demise
Not too long after his death VJ was diagnosed with having Stage 2 CTE, a degenerative brains disease caused by constant blows to the head. CTE has been known to impact a person’s mood and/or thought process. Many other NFL players have also been diagnosed with CTE post-mortem, most notably Aaron Hernandez. The former Pats tight end was convicted of multiple murders and after allegedly hanging himself in prison, doctors said he had the worse case of CTE they had ever seen in a 27-year-old.
Jackson was also said to have passed due to the effects of chronic drinking, which is commonly used to cope with brain disease but only worsens it. Reports say that up to one-third of people who suffer from injuries to the brain like CTE routinely drink casually or way too much.
Jackson Was A Fab Wide Receiver
Jackson was an electrifying wide receiver known for winning jump balls against hapless defensive backs. VJ tallied 540 receptions for 9,080 yards and 57 touches to paydirt during his 12-year NFL career (seven with the Chargers, five with Tampa Bay). He also had six seasons of 1,000 or more receiving yards. A borderline HOF talent for sure.
Vincent Jackson caught the first touchdown I ever watched live…and caught two more this game to go with it. Truly a special wide receiver in his short stint with the San Diego Chargers.
⚡️x 83 pic.twitter.com/6KNplOMLYm
— Tyler Schoon (@tylerjschoon) February 15, 2021
Jackson Started A Foundation For Military Families: Was A Military Brat
VJ’s parents both served in the military, so Jackson created a foundation called the Jackson In Action 83, a nonprofit designed to support military families. The foundation was something near and dear to Jackson. The foundation doesn’t just support the families, it also aims to focus on the educational, emotional, and physical health of children in military families.
Former NFL WR Vincent Jackson was found dead Monday morning at the Homewood Suites in Brandon, Florida.
Police said there were no apparent signs of trauma and the Hillsborough County Medical Examiner's Office will determine the cause of death. Jackson was 38. pic.twitter.com/IlLQHDgCGc
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) February 15, 2021
Jackson was known as a person who put others before himself. Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister said Jackson was a role model in his community.
“Mr. Jackson was a devoted man who put his family and community above everything else. He will be sorely missed by not only football fans across the country but also here In Hillsborough County who reaped the benefits of his generous contributions.”
CTE Research Continues
Former players are speaking out more now about CTE and its long-term effects. For years so many players had few resources to deal with the effects of a disease that the NFL won’t take any culpability for. They lived nightmare lives and with very minimal understanding of the brain disease.
The hope is that research on this deadly, debilitating disease continues to expand and that something can be done to better protect the athlete short- and long-term.
Rest In Peace Vincent Jackson, an NFL soldier who represents the highs and lows of the game.
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