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Business Observer Thursday, Dec. 23, 2021 11 months ago

Former Bucs star's death another 'wake-up call’ for football

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The late Vincent Jackson, who became a prominent Tampa businessman after his retirement from the NFL, suffered from a degenerative brain disease common in ex-football players.
by: Brian Hartz Tampa Bay Editor

The late Vincent Jackson, a star wide receiver for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 2012 to 2016, suffered from stage 2 chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disease caused by repetitive head trauma, according to a Dec. 16 news release issued by Jackson’s family and the Concussion Legacy Foundation.

Jackson was found dead, at age 38, in a Brandon hotel room Feb. 15 with no visible signs of physical injury or trauma. His cause of death remained a mystery, but speculation centered on CTE, common in retired NFL players who’ve sustained concussions.

The affliction, which can’t be diagnosed while someone is alive, can bring on abnormal behavior such as aggression, impulsivity, depression, anxiety, paranoia, substance abuse and suicidal thoughts, along with progressive cognitive symptoms, eventually leading to dementia. Jackson’s brain, the release states, has been donated for further research into the condition.

“Vincent dedicated so much of his life to helping others. Even in his passing, I know he would want to continue that same legacy,” states Lindsey Jackson, Vincent’s widow, in the release. “By donating his brain to the VA-BU-CLF Brain Bank, we hope to continue to see advancements in CTE research, enabling physicians to diagnose the disease in the living and ultimately find treatment options in the future. There is still a lot to be understood about CTE, and education is the key to prevention.”

'So many football players have died with CTE and so little is being done to make football safer by limiting the number of repetitive sub-concussive hits.' Dr. Ann McKee, chief of neuropathology for the VA Boston Healthcare System

Following his retirement in 2016, Jackson established himself as a businessman and philanthropist in the Tampa Bay region. He was the majority partner in Callaloo Group, an investment firm that revitalized the Manhattan Casino building in South St. Petersburg with 22 South, a multi-restaurant food hall.

Reeling from Jackson’s death, Callaloo Group shuttered the venue in April. It was revived by Urban Collective, a group of seven St. Pete-based entrepreneurs, in October.

Jackson, a Business Observer 40 Under 40 honoree in 2020, also founded CTV Capital, a real estate development firm that had projects in Florida, California and Nevada, as well as Jackson in Action 83 Foundation, a nonprofit that supports military families.

Physicians who studied Jackson’s brain point the finger at football and say the sport needs drastic changes, at all levels, to prevent CTE.

“So many football players have died with CTE and so little is being done to make football safer by limiting the number of repetitive sub-concussive hits,” states Dr. Ann McKee, chief of neuropathology for the VA Boston Healthcare System and director of the BU CTE Center and VA-BU-CLF Brain Bank, in the release.

Concussion Legacy Foundation co-founder Dr. Chris Nowinski, a former Harvard football player, calls Jackson’s death a “wake-up call” for current and retired NFL players. “If a four-time Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee who never had a diagnosed concussion can lose his fight against CTE at just 38,” he states, “it can happen to anyone.”

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