Former Falcons safety Ray Easterling, who committed suicide in April, had the degenerative brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy, his widow today.
CTE is associated with repeated concussions and has been found in studying the brains of several deceased NFL players.
Mary Ann Easterling said she suspected that brain damage on the football field led to the changes she saw in her husband during his retirement, when he went from a happy, healthy, successful businessman to a troubled person who had difficulty functioning.
“I was expecting it,” Easterling told the Associated Press. “It verifies all of our suspicions, Ray’s included. . . . I feel affirmed and I feel at peace. It made my heart hurt even more to know he suffered through that.”
Ray Easterling played for the Falcons from 1972 to 1979. In 2011 he joined one of the dozens of lawsuits against the NFL over the effects of concussions.