The family of Frank Gifford says the revered sportscaster and NFL star suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a progressive brain disease linked to the types of brain injuries and head trauma common in football.
"While Frank passed away from natural causes this past August at the age of 84, our suspicions that he was suffering from the debilitating effects of head trauma were confirmed when a team of pathologists recently diagnosed his condition," the family said in a statement released Wednesday.
Gifford's family said they decided to have his brain studied "in hopes of contributing to
the advancement of medical research concerning the link between football and traumatic brain injury." And they decided to make his diagnosis public to honor Gifford's commitment to promoting player safety, dating back to his involvement in creating the NFL Players Association, a union representing players' interests, in 1956.
CTE can be diagnosed only after death.
Gifford's diagnosis comes amid a growing focus on the risks athletes face from suffering repeated concussions, and just hours after the NFL admitted its concussion protocols had failed when St. Louis Rams quarterback Case Keenum kept playing Sunday even after his head slammed into the field.