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Deceased Penn Football Player Had Brain Disease, NY Times Says

The University of Pennsylvania football co-captain who committed suicide in April had a trauma-induced disease that was discovered in a brain autopsy, the New York Times reported.

Owen Thomas, a 21-year-old junior defensive end, hanged himself in his off-campus apartment. Friends and family said Thomas, who had no previous history of depression, had a “sudden and uncharacteristic emotional collapse,” according to the New York Times.

Doctors at Boston University examined Thomas’s brain tissue and found early stages of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a disease found in more than 20 deceased National Football League players, the Times said on its website. The disease is linked to depression and a lack of impulse control among NFL players, two of whom committed suicide in the past 10 years, the New York Times said.

The doctors who conducted the autopsy at Boston University cautioned that Thomas’s suicide shouldn’t be primarily attributed to his brain damage, the paper said. The 6-foot-2, 240-pound Thomas helped lead Penn to the 2009 Ivy League championship and finished second in the league with six quarterback sacks.

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