Late Raiders QB Ken Stabler Donated His Brain, Spinal Cord to Boston University

Prior to his death, he arranged for his brain to be donated to the university's cutting-edge CTE Center.

Photo via AP

Photo via AP

Legendary Oakland Raiders quarterback Ken “The Snake” Stabler, who led the Silver and Black to victory in Super Bowl XI, died of Stage 4 colon cancer Thursday. He was 69.

In life, Stabler led a group of more than 70 plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the NFL in 2012, alleging the league had denied the long-term health complications of head injuries endemic in football. In death, Stabler could have an even greater impact.

“He wanted to make a difference in the lives of other in both life and death,” Stabler’s family posted on Facebook. “At his request, his brain and spinal cord were donated to Boston University’s Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy Center to support research for degenerative brain disease in athletes.”

Stabler joins a long list of former NFLers whose brains have been donated to BU’s CTE Center, a leader in the study of the progressive, degenerative brain disease affecting those with histories of concussions and other head injuries, and the largest CTE “brain bank” in the world, located at the Bedford VA Medical Center. Matt Birk, Lofa Tatupu, and Sean Morey all committed their brains as active players in 2009. The following year, Hunter Hillenmeyer, Mike Haynes, Zach Thomas, Kyle Turley, Conrad Dobler, Jason Belser, Don Hasselbeck, Keith Krepfle, and Jack Thompson followed suit.

In 2011, the CTE Center determined that late NFLer Dave Duerson had suffered from a moderately advanced case of CTE, which can only be diagnosed postmortem. Duerson, a two-time Super Bowl champion with the New York Giants and Chicago Bears, committed suicide at age 50. “Please, see that my brain is given to the NFL’s Brain Bank,” his suicide note read.