Devils' Ben Lovejoy becomes first active NHL player to pledge brain to CTE research

NHL: New Jersey Devils at Vancouver Canucks
Lovejoy wants to raise awareness surrounding serious head injuries in hockey. USATSI

New Jersey Devils defenseman Ben Lovejoy has pledged to donate his brain to CTE research, making him the first active NHL player to do so. 

Lovejoy announced his intentions to donate his brain to the Concussion Legacy Foundation, which focuses on studying Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) and the effects that concussions have on the brains of athletes. Lovejoy is one of more than 2,500 athletes to commit to donating their brain for study once they die.

"I'm a believer in medicine, I'm a believer in helping the future," Lovejoy said, via NJ.com. "This summer I read an article about how many NFL players had pledged their brain and there were no current NHL players. I immediately forwarded the article to my agent, who went to (Boston University), and said, 'Can you look into this and figure out how I can do this?'"

The 33-year-old Devils blue liner hasn't had any major run-ins with head trauma during his NHL career, but he's still hoping to make a difference. He hopes that his pledge will provide insight and help create awareness that will allow future generations of players to protect themselves from serious head injuries that can having a lasting impact.

"I have had very high-profile, superstar teammates struggle with concussions, and I've had minor league role players struggle with concussion," Lovejoy said. "It's something that affects everybody in our sport. I look forward to being a part of BU, helping them find a cure, through pledging to donate my brain and raising awareness in our sport."

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"If people have questions and want to be involved, I will direct them, but this is a personal choice that I've made," Lovejoy said. "I don't like to tell people how to handle their bodies. If people are interested, I will absolutely direct them toward Chris. This is a sensitive issue. This is my brain, and I'm choosing to do what I want with it when I'm done."

With a rise in CTE awareness over recent years, the NHL has made a conscious effort to limit headshots and dangerous plays that can result in significant head injuries. That awareness has also sparked recurring debates over whether or not the league should ban fighting, as several former enforcers -- including Derek Boogaard, who died in 2011 at age 28 -- have been diagnosed with CTE after dying at a relatively young age.

Now that Lovejoy has committed his brain in order to raise awareness, there's a chance it could lead to some of his peers across the league doing the same. 

Pete Blackburn is from Boston, so there's a good chance you don't like him already. He has been a writer at CBS Sports since 2017 and usually aims to take a humorous and light-hearted approach to the often... Full Bio

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