Former NFL Player Who Killed 6 Had Severe CTE

Family says Phillip Adams was 'desperately seeking help from the NFL'
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 14, 2021 11:32 AM CST
Ex-NFL Player Who Killed 6 Had Severe CTE
A York County sheriff's deputy is parked outside a residence where multiple people, including a prominent doctor, were fatally shot a day earlier, April 8, 2021, in Rock Hill, SC.   (AP Photo/Nell Redmond, File)

A former NFL player who went on a murderous rampage, killing six people and himself, had stage 2 chronic traumatic encephalopathy, better known as CTE. That's according to Boston University's Dr. Ann McKee, who examined Phillip Adams' brain tissue and found it was in a similar condition as that of former NFL player Aaron Hernandez, who was convicted of killing two people in 2015 and committed suicide in 2017, per NBC News. The degenerative brain disease linked to repeated head trauma was "unusually severe in both frontal lobes," McKee said Tuesday, adding that it may have contributed to Adams' "behavioral abnormalities." Boston U. researchers are at the forefront of CTE research, notes NBC.

The findings are in line with what family members have claimed since the April massacre in Rock Hill, South Carolina. Before killing himself, 32-year-old Adams—known to have suffered two concussions during his 2012-13 season with the Oakland Raiders—is alleged to have shot and killed a doctor who treated him, Dr. Robert Lesslie, 70; his wife Barbara Lesslie, 69; two of their grandchildren, Adah, 9, and Noah, 5; and two air condition technicians, James Lewis and Robert Shook, both 38. "I think the football messed him up," Adams' father, Alonzo, told WCNC a day after the killings. "It was just a lot things that were part of his character that just disappeared," added sister Lauren, per USA Today.

McKee said "Adams' 20-year career in football put him at a high risk for CTE," which can only be diagnosed after death. She added stage 2 CTE was associated with aggression, depression, paranoia, anxiety, poor executive function and memory loss, per NBC. "We cannot say that we are surprised by these results. However it is shocking to hear how severe his condition was," the family said in a statement. They added Adams "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." The NFL has not yet responded. (More on the case here.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.