Brain autopsy of former BC Lions Rick Klassen shows extensive CTE
New autopsy research on the brain of former BC Lions player Rick Klassen show the 57-year-old had extensive chronic traumatic encephalopathy, known as CTE, caused by years of blows to the head in his playing days.
The defensive lineman died of cancer in 2016 and donated his brain to concussion research. He played for 10 years, the majority of it with the Lions.
His son Chad Klassen says knowing these results, he wishes his father and the CFL did the right thing when he took a hit to the head.
“Looking back, I wish trainers would have sat him down or forced him to miss a game. I know it’s something my dad would’ve hated because he just loved playing,” said Klassen.
“The trainers didn’t really have a sense of what concussions were fully and players like my dad wanted to keep playing. They didn’t want to lose their starting job or their spot on the roster.”
Klassen said the disease often led to his dad having erratic and violent behaviour.
“He had a hard time controlling his emotions. It certainly had an effect on us as far as my siblings and mom getting the brunt of his emotional tirades. It was difficult.”
He said doctors looking at his father’s brain described it as the equivalent of someone in their 60s or 80s.
He hopes the findings will continue to spawn more research on CTE’s effects.
Recently, the B.C. Court of Appeal dismissed a concussion lawsuit against the league filed by former BC Lions receiver Arland Bruce.
But Bruce has said he has plans to take it to Canada’s highest court.
Last year, former CFL commissioner Jeffrey Orridge stirred controversy after claiming there was “no conclusive evidence” linking hits to the head and CTE.
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