Boomer Esiason Thinks He Has CTE: ‘I Think All Football Players Probably Have It’

Monday August 7th, 2017

Former NFL quarterback Boomer Esiason thinks CTE is more common among football players than most of realize. 

“If I died tomorrow and my brain was taken and researched and I was found to have CTE, which most likely I have, because I think all football players probably have it, the way I read it and the way I see it,” Esiason said Monday on Boomer & Carton, his New York morning radio show with co-host Craig Carton. 

“You mean some level of it that maybe hasn’t manifested itself yet?” Carton asked. 

“Sure, and I wouldn’t doubt that you have some level of it because you were an athlete at one time,” Esiason told Carton. “The more we learn about our brains the better it is for the guys who are playing today. The good news for the guys playing today, especially the guys who play a long time, they get paid a hell of a lot more than we ever did.”

A recent study by Boston University diagnosed CTE in the brains of 110 out of 111 former NFL players. But that doesn’t suggest 99% of NFL players have CTE. The players who had their brains donated to the study did so because they or their families had already seen symptoms of CTE.

Esiason played 14 years in the NFL, including two more seasons after a brutal 1995 hit by the Bills’ Bruce Smith that knocked him unconscious for two minutes and left him with a concussion, his second in two years. Though he has no memory of the play, Esiason later called the hit the hardest he’s ever taken and said he was the first player ever placed in the NFL’s concussion protocol. 

Esiason was asked after the hit whether he would retire right away and expedite his transition into television. 

“I’ll be honest,” Esiason, then 34, said. “Those who are closest to me think about it. But they’re thinking in human terms; I’m thinking in athletic terms. I know my family and friends are thinking, why do this to yourself? But I love football and I want to play.”

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