Vincent Jackson’s family has decided to donate his brain to researchers at Boston University in an attempt to learn if the late wide receiver suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, family spokesperson Allison Gorrell confirmed in an email to USA TODAY Sports on Thursday night.
Gorrell had previously told The New York Times that Jackson, who was found dead in a Florida hotel room on Monday morning, “would have wanted to help as many people as possible.” Donating his brain for research is “something his family wanted to do to get answers to some of their questions,” she added to the newspaper.
Boston University’s CTE Center, led by neuropathologist and neurologist Ann McKee, is the country’s preeminent research institution for CTE, a degenerative disease that has been found in the brains of former athletes and military members, among other populations. The disease can only be diagnosed posthumously.
Authorities have said that Jackson, a three-time Pro Bowler with the San Diego Chargers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, checked into a Homewood Suites on the eastern outskirts of Tampa, Florida more than a month before his death.
According to a preliminary report released by the Hillsborough County Medical Examiner’s Office on Thursday evening, hotel staff saw Jackson “seated on the couch, slouched over” in his room on both Saturday and Sunday but thought he was sleeping. When they found him in the same position Monday, they called 911.
According to the preliminary report, Jackson had a small laceration on his left big toe but showed no other visible signs of injury. He was 38.
Medical examiner’s office spokesperson Michelle Van Dyke wrote in an email that “there is no timeframe for the completion of the autopsy report” in Jackson’s case, though it could take several months to determine the official cause and manner of his death.
While the investigation is ongoing, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement Wednesday that Jackson’s family believed he suffered from chronic alcoholism and the lingering effects of concussions.
After playing 12 seasons in the NFL, from 2005 to 2016, Jackson had become a well-known businessman and philanthropist in the Tampa area. He owned multiple restaurants, founded a real estate and development company and helped manage The Jackson In Action 83 Foundation, a nonprofit organization that supports the children of military members.
Jackson is survived by his wife, Lindsey, and their four children.