Michael Keck, a former Missouri State football player who started his college career at Missouri, was suffering from a severe case of CTE when he died in 2013 at the age of 25.
“When you talk in terms of his age, being young, and you talk about his limited years of playing, it is one of the more severe cases,” Dr. Robert Cantu, a co-founder of the CTE Center at Boston University, told the Associated Press. “Had he lived to 70 or 80, we would have expected this to be a Grade 4 (the most severe form) case.”
Keck's wife, Cassandra Keck, spoke to the AP after doctors announced their findings from studying his brain, which was donated to Boston University for research after his death. She said Keck's behavior and health began to change after he was knocked unconscious during his first fall camp with Missouri State in 2009.
Multiple concussions forced Keck to quit the team in 2011, then he eventually left school when he could no longer read without suffering "debilitating headaches."
via the Associated Press:
“When he stopped playing, he became the bad seed,” Cassandra Keck said. “If they drank together, there ended up being holes in the wall. The next few years, people stopped coming around. People didn't want to be around him anymore.”
Unable to read without debilitating headaches, Keck left school six credits shy of graduation. Cassandra Keck said the suicide of former San Diego Charger Junior Seau, who shot himself in the chest to preserve his brain for study, “really opened my eyes, because that's what Michael was going through.” Seau was found to suffer from CTE, which can be diagnosed only after death.
Missouri State responded to the story by citing its return-to-action policy for head injuries.
“MSU's athletic training and medical teams work diligently and responsively in each case to ensure all student-athletes receives appropriate care and attention,” a school spokesman said. “No student-athlete is ever cleared to return to practice or competition without first being free of concussion symptoms and then going through the appropriate return-to-activity progression process.”