WAGNER: In sport, minds matter

By on October 11, 2017
Photo contributed.


Aaron Hernandez and Ty Pozzobon — two superstar athletes who were at opposite ends of sporting careers that burned brighter than the sun — likely didn’t have much in common.

Despite his obvious talents on the gridiron as a professional NFL player, Hernandez became infamous for his off-field troubles, which culminated in him being charged with murder as a 24-year-old.

In April, Hernandez committed suicide in a prison cell in Lancaster, Mass. Doctors who examined his brain found that the former phenom had been suffering from severe chronic traumatic encephalopathy — CTE.

Then you have Pozzobon. A champion bull rider, coming off a career-year. An earnest and genuine young man whom his fellow cowboys described in glowing terms for his competitive drive and easy-going nature.

Pozzobon was only 25 years old when he took his own life. Doctors with the University of Washington have now confirmed that Pozzobon was suffering from the same degenerative brain disease that affected Hernandez and so many other athletes.

Despite their differences in life, ultimately both mens’ minds were irrevocably affected by the strain they had placed on their bodies from years in sport. And while they walked different pathes, their deaths left families, friends and relatives overwhelmed with grief.

The hope is that they might share another thing in common: that their passing contributes to a change in sports culture wherein athletes’ brains are respected as much — if not more so — than their brawn.

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