Frank Gifford Suffered From Concussion-Related Brain Disease, Family Reveals

Team of pathologists diagnosed CTE in brain of late New York Giants’ star, “Monday Night Football” broadcaster

Last Updated: November 25, 2015 @ 2:02 PM

Frank Gifford suffered from concussion-related brain disease Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy — commonly know as CTE — his family revealed Wednesday in a statement.

The former New York Giants great and “Monday Night Football” broadcaster passed away from natural causes this year. He was 84. Gifford was the husband of “Today” show host Kathie Lee Gifford.

“Our suspicions that he was suffering from the debilitating effects of head trauma were confirmed when a team of pathologists recently diagnosed his condition as that of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) — a progressive degenerative brain disease,” the family said.

The Gifford family called donating Frank’s brain to science a “difficult decision.”

“We decided to disclose our loved one’s condition to honor Frank’s legacy of promoting player safety dating back to his involvement in the formation of the NFL Players Association in the 1950s,” they continued. “His entire adult life Frank was a champion for others, but especially for those without the means or platform to have their voices heard.”

The Giffords stated that Frank had spent the final years of his life studying the connection between repetitive head trauma and “its associated cognitive and behavioral symptoms” — the effects of which he “experienced firsthand,” they said.

“The Gifford family will continue to support the National Football League and its recent on-field rule changes and procedures to make the game Frank loved so dearly–and the players he advocated so tirelessly for–as safe as possible,” they concluded.

“We have great respect and sympathy for the Gifford family,” the New York Giants told TheWrap. “We all miss Frank dearly. We support the family’s decision to contribute to the discussion and research of an issue we take very seriously.”

The NFL only pointed us towards two doctors in the field of head trauma when we asked for comment. The family’s full statement is posted below.

After losing our beloved husband and father, Frank Gifford, we as a family made the difficult decision to have his brain studied in hopes of contributing to the advancement of medical research concerning the link between football and traumatic brain injury.

While Frank passed away from natural causes this past August at the age of 84, our suspicions that he was suffering from the debilitating effects of head trauma were confirmed when a team of pathologists recently diagnosed his condition as that of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE)–a progressive degenerative brain disease.

We decided to disclose our loved one’s condition to honor Frank’s legacy of promoting player safety dating back to his involvement in the formation of the NFL Players Association in the 1950s. His entire adult life Frank was a champion for others, but especially for those without the means or platform to have their voices heard. He was a man who loved the National Football League until the day he passed, and one who recognized that it was–and will continue to be–the players who elevated this sport to its singular stature in American society.

During the last years of his life Frank dedicated himself to understanding the recent revelations concerning the connection between repetitive head trauma and its associated cognitive and behavioral symptoms–which he experienced firsthand. We miss him every day, now more than ever, but find comfort in knowing that by disclosing his condition we might contribute positively to the ongoing conversation that needs to be had; that he might be an inspiration for others suffering with this disease that needs to be addressed in the present; and that we might be a small part of the solution to an urgent problem concerning anyone involved with football, at any level.

The Gifford family will continue to support the National Football League and its recent on-field rule changes and procedures to make the game Frank loved so dearly–and the players he advocated so tirelessly for–as safe as possible.  

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