Ex-NFL star Leonard Marshall to donate brain for concussion research

Former New York Giants lineman Leonard Marshall will join hundreds of other ex-NFL players in donating his brain for research on traumatic brain injuries, the 55-year-old football star confirmed Friday during an appearance on FOX Business Network’s “Varney and Co.”

A two-time Pro Bowl selection, Marshall was diagnosed with early signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, in 2013 through a groundbreaking exam by researchers at UCLA. The degenerative brain condition, which previously could only be diagnosed conclusively post-mortem, is widely linked to repeated concussions or blows to the head.

“As I’ve gone through this process, both understanding my illness, coming to grips with my behavior, coming to grips with issues surrounding CTE, that’s when I made the firm decision that, you know what, I need to tell my story, and hopefully I help somebody in the process,” Marshall said.

Marshall, who won two Super Bowls as a member of the Giants, first pledged to donate his brain to science last month during the Department of Veteran Affairs’ annual “Brain Trust” conference in Boston, the Associated Press reported. Former Seattle Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck took the pledge alongside Marshall.

Marshall has said he already experiences symptoms associated with CTE, including memory loss and erratic behavior.

“I would tell a kid to [play football] but the ones that are eight to 12 years old, those are the ones that I’m concerned about, because the brain is not fully developed yet,” Marshall said. “For you to have those traumatic blows to the brain from eight to 12 years old, it can have a significant impact.”

Several deceased NFL players, including Hall of Fame linebacker Junior Seau and former Chicago Bears safety Dave Duerson, were diagnosed with CTE after their deaths. Both men committed suicide.

Both Marshall and Hasselbeck will donate their brains to the Concussion Legacy Foundation, which has collected pledges from more than 1,800 former athletes and military veterans, according to the AP.

Marshall participated alongside hundreds of former football players in a class-action lawsuit against the NFL, which alleged that league officials misled or misinformed players about risks associated with repeated head injuries. The two sides reached a settlement worth up to $1 billion in 2013.