Greg Clark, who played for four seasons in the NFL with the San Francisco 49ers, has died, his family said on Friday. He was 49.
There was no official cause of death given for the retired athlete, however, his family said in a statement that he recently “suffered from CTE symptoms.”
CTE, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy, is a progressive and fatal brain disease associated with repeated traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), including concussions and repeated blows to the head, according to Alzheimmer’s Association.
In a study published in the medical journal JAMA in July 2017, CTE was found in 99% of deceased NFL players’ brains that were donated to scientific research.
“It is with great sadness we announce the unexpected passing of Greg Clark, 49, cherished husband, father, son, brother, and friend to so many,” the family statement said. “Greg was a dedicated family man who was successful at everything he did, from his academic and athletic achievements as a Stanford scholar athlete to his role as tight end for the San Francisco 49ers, to the creation of a successful real estate platform throughout the bay area.”
“Most importantly, he was a cherished and dedicated father of three sons, and a loving husband to his wife of 23 years,” it continued. “His recent suffering from CTE symptoms cannot extinguish the breadth of his impact on us and others and we are forever grateful for the time we have had with him. It is our hope that through further research we can gain more knowledge surrounding CTE.”
Clark was drafted by the 49ers in the third round of the 1997 NFL Draf. He played four seasons with the NFL team before bowing out due to injuries.
The team issued a statement Friday that said, “Our organization is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Greg Clark … Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.”