Fred McNeill died in November due to complications from ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease), but his health began a rapid decline far before he passed away at age 63 – and his story is currently a feature subject on CNN.
The story takes aim at McNeill's decline in health following a 12-year career with the Minnesota Vikings (1974-1985). Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), the degenerative brain disease that has the NFL in a fight to find ways to prevent head trauma, was wreaking havoc on McNeill's life years before he died.
Dr. Bennett Omalu, the man featured in the movie "Concussion" for his discovery of CTE, made a speculative diagnosis that McNeill was suffering from the disease after spending 30 minutes on the phone with McNeill's wife, Tia.
That's how clear McNeill's symptoms were to Omalu. He experienced memory loss, forgetfulness, anger issues and suicidal thoughts – also symptoms of CTE.
An autopsy revealed that McNeill did indeed have CTE.
He's the second player in as many days to have been identified as a former NFLer to have had CTE. Ex-Raiders quarterback Ken Stabler, who died last July, was diagnosed with CTE on Wednesday, the New York Times reported.
According to CNN, CTE is not unique to athletes, but a recent study found that 87 of 91 former NFL players' brains who were studied showed signs of CTE.