In a move that mirrors what other football players families have done after a player committed suicide, O.J. Murdock’s family has donated his brain tissue to researchers studying the impact of repetitive concussions and head injuries and traumatic head injuries.
Murdock, a reserve receiver for the Tennessee Titans, died July 30 from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He was found in his car, outside the football field he play on in high school.
Boston University has been investigating the deaths of other NFL players by examining their brain tissue for signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Boston University contacted Murdock’s mother, who readily agreed to help their research. Murdock is the latest in a series of suicides in NFL players, including the one last May of Junior Seau and in 2011 of Dave Duerson. Boston University found signs of severe CTE in Duerson’s brain.
CTE is a degenerative brain disease caused by repetitive concussions. Even repetitive sub-concussion head injuries can lead to the development of this concussions. The disease leads to memory loss, depression, and loss of other brain function, similar to dementia and Alzheimer’s, because of a progressive degeneration of the brain tissue.
Murdock’s high school coach doesn’t remember Murdock ever suffering a concussion, but his college coach from Fort Hays State said he received one near the end of his last season there and was cleared to play again a few days later.
When Murdock was in high school, he was the 10th best wide receiver recruit in the country and he was recruited by the University of South Carolina. After only four games as a Gamecock, he was arrested for shoplifting and suspended, after which he went to a community college for a year. He finished his college career at Fort Hays State and joined the NFL Scouting Combine after an impressive senior year record. He was also a teammate to Kenny McKinley, a wide receiver for the Denver Broncos who committed suicide in 2010.
The Titan’s signed him last year, but Murdock spent the entire season out of the game, having been injured during training camp.