Joe Kapp and his family gather by a field sign created to honor the former NFL player's legacy at El Sausal Middle School in Salinas, Calif.

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Joe Kapp, former Super Bowl QB, dies at 85

Joe Kapp, who played quarterback at Cal and later led the Minnesota Vikings to the Super Bowl, died Monday at age 85.

J.J. Kapp confirmed his father’s death to the San Francisco Chronicle, saying it came following a “15-year battle with dementia.”

Raised in California, Kapp played both football and basketball at Cal. On the field, the All-American led the Golden Bears to the Pacific Coast Conference championship in 1958 and onto the Rose Bowl. The Bears lost to Iowa in the 1959 game — the last appearance in the Rose Bowl for Cal.

Kapp spent eight seasons in the Canadian Football League, twice leading the British Columbia Lions to the Grey Cup title game. He moved to the NFL in 1967, leading the Vikings to the Super Bowl following a 12-2 season in 1969.

Minnesota lost Super Bowl IV to the Kansas City Chiefs, 23-7. Still, Kapp is the only quarterback to lead teams to a Rose Bowl, Grey Cup and Super Bowl.

Kapp spent three seasons with the Vikings and signed with the Boston Patriots in 1970 after Minnesota didn’t offer him a new contract. After the season, commissioner Pete Rozelle intervened and declared the four-year contract Kapp signed with the Patriots was invalid. Rozelle ruled Kapp had to sign a revised contract to continue in the NFL, and Kapp never played again.

He finished his NFL career with a 24-21-3 record as a starter. He threw for 5,911 yards, with 40 touchdowns and 64 interceptions.

He filed an antitrust suit against the NFL and eventually won but wasn’t awarded any damages.

Kapp had small acting roles in films, including in “The Longest Yard,” in the 1970s. In 1982, he took over as head coach at Cal in his first-ever coaching job. He was the coach of the Bears during the Nov. 20, 1982, game against Stanford, when Cal improbably won with four seconds left in a contest marked by the Stanford band prematurely stepping onto the field.

Cal fired Kapp in 1986 after a 20-34-1 record.

In later years, as he struggled with dementia, Kapp said in an interview that he feared he had chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a brain disease afflicting many former football players.

J.J. Kapp said his father’s brain will be studied at UC San Francisco to determine whether Kapp was afflicted with CTE.

–Field Level Media

Dec 12, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Broncos safety Kareem Jackson (22) kneels next to the numbers of former Denver Broncos player Demaryius Thomas (not pictured) after the game against the Detroit Lions at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Autopsy: Demaryius Thomas died of seizure disorder complications

Former Denver Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas died from “complications of a seizure disorder,” according to the Fulton County medical examiner’s office in Atlanta.

Thomas was found dead in the shower of his Roswell, Georgia, home on Dec. 9. He was 33 years old. Shortly after his death, the Thomas family issued a statement that he had suffered from recurring seizures since a car crash in 2019, and they believed he died after enduring a seizure.

Last month, researchers at Boston University confirmed that Thomas suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, but stated his death was likely not caused by it.

The autopsy report confirmed these suspicions, stating the CTE did not cause the seizure disorder or his death.

The autopsy also indicated trace amounts of marijuana and nicotine in Thomas’ system, according to television station KUSA in Denver.

As a four-time Pro Bowl selection, Thomas played nine seasons with the Broncos, winning Super Bowl 50 with Denver. He recorded 724 catches for 9,763 yards and 63 touchdowns in 143 career games with the Broncos, Texans (2018) and New York Jets (2019).

–Field Level Media

Dec 12, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; Detailed view of a memorial sticker on a Denver Broncos helmet in reference to American football player Demaryius Thomas before the game against the Detroit Lions at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Researchers: Late WR Demaryius Thomas had CTE

Late NFL wide receiver Demaryius Thomas had the degenerative brain disease known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, Boston University researchers revealed Tuesday.

Thomas was found dead at his home in Georgia on Dec. 9 at age 33, but the Fulton County coroner has not released a cause of death. His family suspected seizures resulting from a 2019 car accident might have caused his death.

The former Denver Broncos star began displaying erratic behavior, including mood changes and isolation, in 2020, according to his family.

“His mood would change, and he would also isolate himself sometimes,” said Katina Stuckey Smith, Thomas’ mother, in an interview with ABC. “He was, like, ‘Mom, I don’t know what’s going on with my body. You know, I gotta get myself together,’ and he said, ‘I don’t feel like myself anymore.’”

Neuropathologist Dr. Ann McKee, part of the Boston University brain research team, told ABC that Thomas most likely died after having a seizure. The condition isn’t commonly associated with CTE.

A four-time Pro Bowl selection, Thomas played eight-plus seasons with the Broncos, who drafted him in the first round in 2010 and traded him to Houston in October 2018.

He won Super Bowl 50 with Denver and recorded 724 catches for 9,763 yards and 63 touchdowns in 143 career games with the Broncos, Texans (2018) and New York Jets (2019). He signed with New England in 2019 but never appeared in a game for the Patriots.

–Field Level Media

Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Vincent Jackson (83) catches a pass in a joint practice with the Jacksonville Jaguars during NFL football training camp at Florida Blue Field in Jacksonville, Fla., Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2016. [Gary Lloyd McCullough/For the Florida Times-Union]

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Family says late WR Vincent Jackson had CTE

Vincent Jackson’s family says the late NFL receiver has been diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

CTE is a degenerative brain disease linked to repetitive head trauma and concussions in football players and other athletes.

Jackson, a three-time Pro Bowl selection who posted six 1,000-yard seasons and played 155 NFL games, was found dead in a Brandon, Fla., hotel room on Feb. 15. He was 38.

According to a press release issued Thursday by Jackson’s family, researchers discovered he had stage 2 CTE. The signs and symptoms can include aggression, impulsivity, depression, paranoia, anxiety and substance abuse.

“That his brain showed stage 2 CTE should no longer surprise us; these results have become commonplace,” said Dr. Ann McKee, a neuropathologist who examined Jackson’s brain. “What is surprising is that so many football players have died with CTE and so little is being done to make football, at all levels, safer by limiting the number of repetitive subconcussive hits.”

Jackson suffered from chronic alcoholism before his death. His family suspected CTE because he sustained multiple concussions during a 12-year NFL career with the then-San Diego Chargers (2005-11) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2012-16).

“There is still a lot to be understood about CTE, and education is the key to prevention,” Jackson’s widow, Lindsey, said in a statement. “The conversation around this topic needs to be more prevalent, and our family hopes that others will feel comfortable and supported when talking about CTE moving forward.”

Jackson finished his career with 540 receptions for 9,080 yards and 57 touchdowns.

–Field Level Media

Green Bay Packers wide receiver Greg Jennings (85) strides into the end zone past San Francisco 49ers cornerback Phillip Adams (35) to score a touchdown in the second  half of a 34-16 Packers win at Lambeau Field on Dec. 5, 2010.

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Coroner: Ex-NFL player who killed six had severe CTE

A coroner on Tuesday said that an ex-NFL player who killed six people and himself earlier this year in South Carolina showed “unusually severe” chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

Dr. Ann McKee, director of the CTE Center at Boston University, examined the brain of Phillip Adams and concluded he suffered from Stage 2 CTE. She likened Adams’ brain disease to that of Aaron Hernandez, who was convicted of murder before killing himself in prison. Hernandez was found to have Stage 3.

“Severe frontal lobe pathology might have contributed to Adams’ behavioral abnormalities, in addition to physical, psychiatric and psychosocial factors,” McKee said during a news conference Tuesday. “Theoretically, the combination of poor impulse control, paranoia, poor decision-making, emotional volatility, rage and violent tendencies caused by frontal lobe damage could converge to lower an individual’s threshold for homicidal acts — yet such behaviors are usually multifactorial.”

Adams was 32 when he gunned down Dr. Robert Lesslie, 70, his wife, Barbara, 69, two of their grandchildren — Adah, 9, and Noah, 5 — as well as HVAC technicians James Lewis and Robert Shook, both 38, on April 7, 2021, in Rock Hill, S.C.

Police later found Adams with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. Adams’ family agreed to send his brain to Boston University to be tested.

“We cannot say that we are surprised by these results, however, it is shocking to hear how severe his condition was,” Adams’ family said in a statement Tuesday. “After going through medical records from his football career, we do know that he was desperately seeking help from the NFL but was denied all claims due to his inability to remember things and to handle seemingly simple tasks such as traveling hours away to see doctors and going through extensive evaluations.”

McKee said more than 315 former NFL players have been posthumously diagnosed with CTE.

Adams starred in football and basketball at Rock Hill High School, then attended South Carolina State. The San Francisco 49ers selected him in the seventh round of the 2010 NFL Draft.

Adams played in 78 career games (11 starts) in the NFL and recorded 128 tackles, five interceptions, two fumble recoveries and one forced fumble with the New England Patriots, Seattle Seahawks, then-Oakland Raiders, New York Jets, Atlanta Falcons and 49ers.

Adams last played in 2015 with the Falcons.

–Field Level Media

Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre throws a snowball toward teammate  Donald Driver as they celebrate a touch down in the second half during the Green Bay Packers- Seattle Seahawks NFL Playoff game Saturday, January 12, 2008 at Lambeau Field.

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Brett Favre: Keep kids out of tackle football until age 14

Legendary NFL quarterback Brett Favre is urging parents to keep their children out of tackle football until high school because of the risks of CTE.

A public-service announcement starring Favre on behalf of the Concussion Legacy Foundation was released Tuesday.

It shows a young boy, wearing a green jersey with Favre’s No. 4, telling his parents what he learned about CTE and telling them not to let him play tackle football until he is 14. Through the course of the minute-long ad, the boy grows to a high school senior discussing how he could have already developed CTE, and ends with him morphing into Favre discussing how adults with CTE could have symptoms including depression, memory lapse and anger.

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, is caused by repeated traumatic brain injuries. It can’t be diagnosed until after death. Ken Stabler, like Favre a Hall of Fame quarterback, is among the many players to have been diagnosed with CTE after his death.

Favre, 51, appeared Tuesday on “Today” to discuss the ad, as well as how he feels after 20 seasons in the NFL, most notably with the Green Bay Packers.

“I don’t know what normal feels like. Do I have CTE? I really don’t know,” Favre said. “Concussions are a very, very serious thing and we’re just scraping the surface of how severe they are.”

Favre is the father of two daughters and the grandfather of three boys, ages 11, 7 and 4. He said they haven’t expressed a desire to play football and he won’t push them to follow in his footsteps.

“If they choose to play, I will support them, but I’m not going to encourage them in any way to play,” he said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a report this year that said kids were 15 times more likely to sustain “head impact” if they took part in tackle sports, and encouraged non-contact and flag football programs until age 14.

Favre won three league Most Valuable Player awards and was selected to 11 Pro Bowls during his career (1991-2000) with the Packers, Atlanta Falcons, New York Jets and Minnesota Vikings.

–Field Level Media