Former Ravens, Broncos QB Cullen Finnerty had CTE in brain

Cullen Finnerty, holding the Division II trophy, played in Baltimore and Denver. (USATSI)
Cullen Finnerty, holding the Division II trophy, played in Baltimore and Denver. (USATSI)

Former Ravens and Broncos quarterback Cullen Finnerty was found dead of pneumonia in late May, and according to the autopsy findings reported by the NY Times on Thursday, he also was suffering from chronic traumatic encephalopathy in his brain.

Finnerty was a star at Division II Grand Valley State before signing as an undrafted free agent with Baltimore in 2007. He never played in an NFL game, though he was on the active roster for two games when Kyle Boller was out with an injury.

Finnerty went fishing by himself in the Michigan woods in late May, and the 30-year-old, who had been taking oxycodone for bad back pain, was found dead two days later, having choked on his vomit.

“A likely sequence of events on the night of death includes anxiety, disorientation and paranoia from being alone in the woods,” the report said. “Those emotions could have been exacerbated by an elevated oxycodone level combined with CTE.”

Finnerty was later found to have Stage 2 (out of 4) CTE.

CTE, a degenerative disease, found in the brains of deceased football players has been linked to head injuries suffered on the field, and after they died, Junior Seau, Chris Henry, Dave Duerson and Ray Easterbrook (with the exception of Henry, all committed suicide) were found to have suffered from CTE.

A number of current and former NFL who are still alive have pledged to donate their brains to those studying the effects of concussions of those who play contact sports.

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