Belcher’s family requested his body be exhumed from a cemetery n New York after questions arose of whether Belcher had the disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a brain disease believed linked to concussions which has been found in several athletes following their deaths.
Last December, the star runningback killed his girlfriend Kasandra Perkins, with whom he had an infant daughter, in their home and then drove to the Chiefs’ practice facility and shot himself in the head in the parking lot in front of several coaches.
Bennet Omalu, an expert on the destructive brain condition, said that he “would bet one month’s salary that Belcher had CTE” and that the local medical examiner should have performed a test for it. “If his brain had been examined when he died, we’d have a better understanding of why he did what he did,” said Omalu. “We would have a better understanding about concussions and playing football, and we would advance the understanding of the science of all of this.”
Initil autopsy results found that Belcher shot Perkins nine times and was intoxicated at the time.
CTE is a progressive disease linked to multiple concussions. It has made headlines in recent years with the deaths of some former professional athletes, and lawsuits filed against the NFL by others worried about the still unclear toll of a sport that can bring repeated blows to the head. Symptoms include memory problems, behavior changes including aggression, and eventually dementia.
See which other professional athletes believed to have CTE following their deaths here.