Former Giants safety Tyler Sash found to have advanced stages of CTE
Sash was found dead at the age of 27 over Labor Day weekend after having overdosed on powerful painkillers.
The family of former New York Giants safety Tyler Sash announced that representatives from Boston University and the Concussion Legacy Foundation found Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) in his brain and that the disease had advanced to a stage rarely seen in someone that age, per the New York Times. Sash was found dead in his home at the age of 27 on Sept. 8.
Dr. Ann McKee, chief of neuropathology at the V.A. Boston Healthcare System and a professor of neurology and pathology at the Boston University School of Medicine who conducted the examination, said Tuesday that the severity of the C.T.E. in Sash’s brain was about the same as the level found in the brain of the former N.F.L. star Junior Seau, who committed suicide in 2012 at age 43.
Doctors grade C.T.E. on a severity scale from 0 to 4; Sash was at Stage 2. McKee, comparing the results to other athletes who died at a similar age, said she had seen only one case, that of a 25-year-old former college player, with a similar amount of the disease.
Sash's brother, Josh, said that Tyler sustained at least five concussions throughout his 16 years of playing football: two in high school, one in college, and two with the Giants. “Those concussions are the ones we definitely know about,” Josh Sash said, via the Times. “If you’ve played football, you know there are often other incidents.”
Sash's mother said that the discovery of CTE in her son's brain gave her clarity over what was happening with her son toward the end of his life. “My son knew something was wrong, but he couldn’t express it,” Barnetta Sash said, per the Times. “He was such a good person, and it’s sad that he struggled so with this -- not knowing where to go with it.
“Now it makes sense. The part of the brain that controls impulses, decision-making and reasoning was damaged badly.”
Sash's autopsy revealed that he had overdosed on a mixture of methadone and hydrocodone, two extremely powerful painkillers. He'd been battling extreme shoulder pain for quite some time, with the injury having played a role in the end of his career back in 2013. He was prescribed the hydrocodone for the pain while evaluating options for surgery on his shoulder, but his family said that it greatly affected his life and personality. His brother described him as not "quite the same person he used to be," while his mother said "he couldn’t focus long enough to do a job."
“We thought the surgery he was going to have would take care of things so he didn’t have to take the medication and we would have our son back,” she said, per the Times.
Days before his death, Sash dislocated his shoulder again when he fell off a ladder, per the Times' story. His mother and sister popped it back in and then he went home. Tyler's mother came by his house to walk his dog and found Tyler asleep on the couch. She walked the dog, brought it back to the house and left. When she returned the next morning, she found Tyler dead.
“What I suspect is that he found some methadone from somewhere and he took it to relieve his pain but there are probably special instructions that go with that,” she said.
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