Vincent Jackson, the former NFL wide receiver found dead at age 38 in a hotel room in February, died of "chronic alcohol use," his autopsy found. The former Tampa Bay Buccaneers player had a blood-alcohol content of 0.28% when he died, and his family says they believe he struggled with alcoholism, USA Today reports. The autopsy found a number of medical problems consistent with chronic alcohol use. He also had chronic traumatic encephalopathy or CTE, which his family had already announced. Jackson's widow told the New York Times in an article published last week that his worsening cognitive health and alcohol struggles were pushed to the brink during the COVID-19 pandemic, when he became isolated and his post-NFL business ventures suffered.
She said he'd been drinking to relieve what the family now knows are CTE symptoms, like feeling brain "fuzziness" and problem-solving difficulties, becoming forgetful and easily distracted, getting depressed, and becoming paranoid. He also suffered from mood swings and memory loss, ESPN reports. "I think the message is, if you played for a long time and you’re experiencing symptoms, it’s very likely that [CTE] is what it is," she says. "I didn’t know that; Vincent didn’t know that. We thought it was just concussions, and we’d love for people to realize it’s more than that." When even the couple's four children, ages 3 to 8, knew his drinking was a problem, Jackson moved into a hotel, where he was found after he stopped responding to family members and they asked law enforcement to check on him. (Read more chronic traumatic encephalopathy stories.)