An autopsy on the former NFL player suspected of fatally shooting six people in Rock Hill, South Carolina, before killing himself in April has revealed exceptionally severe brain illness in the frontal lobe.
Dr Ann McKee, who examined Phillip Adams' brain, claimed that the 20 years he spent playing football in high school, college, and the NFL "certainly... gave rise" to a diagnosis of stage 2 chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).
According to authorities, on April 7, Adams killed Rock Hill physician Robert Lesslie, his wife, Barbara, two of their grandkids, Adah Lesslie, nine, and Noah Lesslie, five, as well as two men working at the Lesslie home, James Lewis and Robert Shook, all 38. Adams was later discovered with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head by police.
CTE has been connected to concussions and head trauma, and has been linked to a variety of symptoms, including violent mood swings and memory loss.
Most of the 24 NFL players diagnosed with the disease after dying in their 20s and 30s, according to McKee, who directs the CTE Center at Boston University, had stage 2 like Adams. There are four phases of the disease, with stage 4 being the most severe and generally accompanied by dementia. Aggression, impulsivity, melancholy, paranoia, anxiety, impaired executive function, and memory loss are among the cognitive and behavioural problems linked with the second stage, according to McKee. According to the specialist, Adams' CTE diagnosis was "unusually severe" in both of his frontal lobes, which set him apart from the other young players.
In a prepared statement, the Adams family said they were not surprised by the results, but were taken aback by the severity of his illness.
“After going through medical records from his football career, we do know that he was desperately seeking help from the NFL but was denied all claims due to his inability to remember things and to handle seemingly simple tasks, such as traveling hours away to see doctors and going through extensive evaluations,” their statement said.
Former members of the military, football players, boxers, and others who have been subjected to repeated brain trauma have been shown to develop CTE, which can only be identified through an autopsy. In a recent research, 110 of 111 NFL players whose brains were examined showed indications of the crippling condition.
Adams, 32, appeared in 78 NFL games for six different teams over the course of six seasons. He was drafted in the seventh round out of South Carolina State in 2010 and went on to play for the New England Patriots, Seattle Seahawks, Oakland Raiders, and New York Jets before concluding his career with the Atlanta Falcons in 2015.
Adams suffered a serious ankle injury as a rookie and never returned to the 49ers. In 2012, he had two concussions in three games with the Raiders. He wouldn't have been eligible for testing as part of a wider settlement between the league and former players over long-term concussion-related ailments if he hadn't retired by 2014.
After the killings, Adams' sister told USA Today that her brother's "mental health has degenerated fast and tremendously terrible" in recent years, and that the family had noted "extremely worrying" indicators of mental illness, such as a rising rage and a lack of personal hygiene.