As first reported by the New York Times, Sash’s family donated his brain for the testing, which can only be done posthumously. The Iowa native and star Hawkeyes defensive back had been prescribed pills for football-related shoulder pain, but close relatives described his behavior once his playing days were over as erratic, and they said he had trouble with his memory.
The Concussion Legacy Foundation, a non-profit organization affiliated with Boston University, conducted the tests on Sash’s brain. CTE, thought to result from repeated blows to the head, has been discovered in many former football players, including Hall of Famers Junior Seau, who committed suicide in 2012, and Frank Gifford, who died last year at 84.
“My son knew something was wrong, but he couldn’t express it,” Barnetta Sash, Tyler’s mother, told the Times. “He was such a good person, and it’s sad that he struggled so with this — not knowing where to go with it.”“Now it makes sense,” she added. “The part of the brain that controls impulses, decision-making and reasoning was damaged badly.”
In one nationally publicized 2014 incident, Sash was tasered by Iowa police after leading them on a chase for several blocks while riding a scooter. He subsequently pleaded guilty to public intoxication.
A sixth-round pick by the Giants in 2011, Sash was a member of that season’s Super Bowl-winning team. He received a four-game suspension in 2012 after testing positive for Adderall, and he was released by the team just before the 2013 season. Upon his release, he reached an injury settlement with the Giants after suffering a concussion in the team’s preseason finale.
“Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with Tyler’s family and friends,” the Giants said in a statement Tuesday (via the New York Post). “As we have said previously, this issue is important and we support the research and discussion.”
Josh Sash said that his brother Tyler had suffered at least five concussions, going back to high school. “Those concussions are the ones we definitely know about,” Josh Sash told the Times. “If you’ve played football, you know there are often other incidents.”