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Ryan Hoffman, Promising College Football Player, Died Homeless at 41 with Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy


Ryan Hoffman was a college football player, a star offensive linesman, at the University of North Carolina.  After college, he began a downward spiral that included alcoholism, drug abuse, and homelessness.  He said repeatedly, “Something is wrong with my brain.”

It was not until he died in November 2015, and his brain was pathologically examined, that he was diagnosed as having chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), now known to be caused by multiple concussions while playing football.  He was said to have Stage 2 (out of 4) of CTE by the pathologist at Boston University (Dr. Ann McKee) who examined his brain.  This is the same stage as the football player Junior Seau, who shot himself in the chest in 2012 after suffering the agonies of depression, loss of memory, loss of impulse control, and fits of rage.

The New York Times (NYT) reporter who knew him stated:

“Dr. McKee said that Stage 2 C.T.E. can be especially symptomatic, causing problems like depression, short-term memory loss, lack of impulse control, irritability and mood swings, and that some of those symptoms could be confused with mental illness. Last year, Hoffman told me that he had received diagnoses of various mental illnesses, including manic depression, but that medications never seemed to help.”

Mr. Hoffman was jobless and homeless, penniless, and dependent on drugs and alcohol when he died.  His sister said, ““I wanted to know exactly what happened to my brother, and I just knew football did it…”  He rode his bicycle head on into traffic on a dimly lit road in Haines, Florida, and died in an ambulance on the way to the hospital.


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