O.J. Murdock’s brain to be studied

The mother of O.J. Murdock, the Tennessee Titans receiver who committed suicide last month, has decided to donate his brain to researchers studying whether football injuries can lead to depression and other health problems.

Jamesena Murdock told the Tampa Tribune that Boston University researchers who are studying football players’ brains for signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy contacted her, and she believed that allowing her son’s brain to be used for that purpose could lead to greater understanding of the risks associated with football, and perhaps enhanced safety measures or better treatment for future players who suffer brain injuries.

I’m an organ donor and I just believe it’s the right thing to do,” Jamesena Murdock said. “If O.J. can help someone still living, he was the type of person who would’ve wanted to do this.”

The Boston researchers found CTE when they studied the brain of former Bears defensive back Dave Duerson after he committed suicide, and they are also studying brain tissue from Junior Seau, who committed suicide this year.

Murdock suffered a season-ending Achilles injury shortly after he signed with the Titans as an undrafted free agent last year and never played in an NFL game. If the researchers find CTE in Murdock’s brain, it could indicate that such brain damage can be a byproduct of playing college, high school and youth football, and that players may already have brain damage before they reach the NFL.

Whatever the researchers find, it’s another valuable piece of information in the search to determine just how much of a toll the game of football can take on players’ brains, and how the game might be made safer. At the most difficult time in her life, Jamesena Murdock deserves credit for allowing her son’s brain to be used to help others.