Cincinnati Bengals receiver Chris Henry suffered from a chronic brain injury that may have influenced his mental state and behavior before he died last winter, West Virginia University researchers said Monday.
The doctors had done a microscopic tissue analysis of Henry's brain that showed he suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy.
Neurosurgeon Julian Bailes and California medical examiner Bennet Omalu, co-directors of the Brain Injury Research Institute at WVU, announced their findings alongside Henry's mother, Carolyn Henry Glaspy, who called it a "big shock" because she knew nothing about her 26-year-old son's underlying condition or the disease.
Henry died in December, a day after he came out of the back of a pickup truck his fiancee was driving near their home in Charlotte, N.C. It's unclear whether Henry jumped or fell. Toxicology tests found no alcohol in his system, and an autopsy concluded he died of numerous head injuries, including a fractured skull and brain hemorrhaging.
But Bailes, team doctor for the Mountaineers and a former Pittsburgh Steelers physician, said it's easy to distinguish those acute traumatic injuries from the underlying condition he and Omalu found when staining tiny slices of Henry's brain.
Bailes and fellow researchers believe chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, is caused by multiple head impacts, regardless of whether those blows result in a concussion diagnosis. A number of studies, including one commissioned by the NFL, have found that retired professional football players may have a higher rate than normal of Alzheimer's disease.
VICK INTERVIEWED: Michael Vick was interviewed by a detective Monday about a shooting that took place outside a nightclub where he had celebrated his birthday, a Virginia Beach (Va.) Police spokesman said.
The spokesman, Adam Bernstein, said the Philadelphia Eagles quarterback is not a suspect, and no arrest has been made in Friday's early morning shooting. One man was wounded.
Police have not identified the shooting victim, but several news outlets identified him as Quanis Phillips, one of the co-defendants in the dogfighting case that landed Vick in federal prison for 18 months.