Former NFL wide receiver O.J. Murdock died on July 30 from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to his head. Now his family has donated O.J.’s brain tissue to researchers for further study of the effects of repetitive traumatic head injuries.
Not long after the death of her son at Tampa General Hospital, Jamesena Murdock was contacted by officials from Boston University where research in chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is being conducted.
As Tampa Bay Online reported, frequent head trauma causes CTE. The brain disease has been known to affect athletes since the 1920s, and has recently been deemed to affect football players who've suffered multiple injuries to the head.
This trauma can cause deterioration of brain tissue which can result in permanent effects such as memory loss, aggressiveness, confusion, depression and dementia.
Jamesena Murdock is an organ donor herself and feels strongly about the cause. "If O.J. can help someone still living, he was the type of person who would've wanted to do this," she said. Jamesena also donated her son’s tissue to the local LifeLink Tissue Bank.
In addition to the donation from the Murdock family, the CTE study at Boston University has also received brain tissue from another former NFL player. Junior Seau died in May from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest, and Seau’s family donated his brain tissue to the study. Another former NFL player, Dave Duerson, also died from a gunshot wound to the chest. Duerson left a suicide note asking that his brain be donated and studied for trauma. The research group at Boston University found that his brain contained the same CTE disease found in many other professional football players.
O.J. Murdock’s father, Kelvin, played football in high school and was eventually drafted by the New England Patriots. According to online reports, he acknowledged that the game involves many hits to the head, and although they do not always result in concussions, the repetitive head trauma is a perpetual issue.