'Absolutely vile': Outrage as NFL IGNORED Phillip Adams' plea for help as he suffered from CTE

Phillip Adams killed six people before turning the gun on himself in April

                            'Absolutely vile': Outrage as NFL IGNORED Phillip Adams' plea for help as he suffered from CTE
NFL was accused of denying help to late cornerback Phillip Adams (L) who was suffering from CTE (NFL/Getty Images, Concussion Legacy Foundation)

The NFL was slammed after claims the league did not respond to ex-cornerback Phillip Adams' pleas for help despite "unusually severe" levels of CTE that possibly led him to kill six people in April before turning the gun on himself.

Adams, who was 32 at the time of his death, played 78 NFL games for six different teams across six seasons before retiring in 2015. In April this year, he fatally shot Dr Robert Lesslie, his wife Barbara, two of their grandchildren, as well as two HVAC workers at the Lesslie residence in South Carolina. So far, no motive for the attack has been established and the only connection between them was that they lived in the same vicinity, the Daily Mail reported.


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Neuropathologists at Boston University's CTE Center released a statement published by the Concussion Legacy Foundation at the request of the Adams family. They noted how the only other person with such severe CTE was former Patriots player Aaron Hernandez, who was convicted of double murder before he killed himself in prison in 2017.

According to the Boston University CTE Center, Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) is a degenerative brain disease found in athletes, military veterans, and others with a history of repetitive brain trauma. In CTE, a protein called tau misfolds and malfunctions, setting off a chain reaction throughout the brain and killing brain cells. While CTE has been seen in people as young as 17, symptoms do not generally show until years after the onset of cranial impacts.

Aaron Hernandez is escorted into the courtroom of the Attleboro District Court for his hearing on August 22, 2013, in North Attleboro, Massachusetts (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

BU's Dr Ann McKee said in the statement, "Mr Adams' CTE pathology was different from other young NFL players with CTE. It was different in that it was unusually severe in both frontal lobes. In its frontal lobe predominance, Adams' CTE pathology was similar to that of another young NFL player, namely Aaron Hernandez." CLF's Lisa McHale added, "He was desperately seeking help from the NFL but was denied all claims."

On the day of the shooting, Adams had amphetamines in his system that he had a prescription for. Meanwhile, he also had Kratom, an over-the-counter drug that is said to have similar effects as opioids. Dr McKee explained that there was a heightened risk of more players losing control of themselves and committing such crimes in the future unless the league starts giving more help and focusing on the issue. "He tried to get help. This was a man who was not thinking clearly," McKee said of Adams. "He is the least able to get help... there are huge obstacles for these former players to find help. They have to make many medical appointments, fill out extensive paperwork and that is usually beyond the ability of people who are impaired. If they don't have an advocate, they fall through the cracks. This is what happened with Mr Adams," she explained. 

Phillip Adams (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

Dr McKee urged the NFL to start monitoring how often individual players sustain both major and minor head hits and suggested the league could put together a "comprehensive care package" for retired athletes. She insisted that the "holy grail" would be to diagnose CTE in players so similar tragedies can be prevented.

CLF founder and CEO Chris Nowinski also agreed that Adams' case should stand as an 'urgent call' to the NFL. "All behavior originates in the brain, and the discovery of the brain disease CTE in Phillip Adams should serve as an urgent call to action to better understand this historically neglected disease," he explained. "The idea that playing a sport Adams first enrolled in at seven years old could be the inciting factor leading to six innocent people dying, along with Adams, is a hypothesis we need to explore as we try to prevent these senseless tragedies in the future."


The NFL faced a considerable backlash on social media over claims that Adams was "denied help" from the league for his CTE. "8 months after tragically killing 6 people and taking his own life we learn that Phillip Adams was denied help from the NFL for his stage 2 CTE because of…his CTE. Absolutely vile," one tweeted.

"How can anyone in the NFL who overlooked CTE and especially ignored Phillip Adams when he asked for help lay their head down at night and go to sleep?!" another chimed in. "Victims' families should sue NFL for all they've got," someone else added.




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