Autopsy done, but CTE test is unlikely
The Boulder County coroner’s office on Tuesday confirmed an autopsy had been performed on former University of Colorado football star Rashaan Salaam, but said any tests to determine whether he had head trauma related to his time on the football field would have to be sent to an outside facility with permission from the family.
And while Salaam’s brother told USA Today he believes his brother suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, he also said that his family would not be permitting the coroner’s office to order such tests because of their religious beliefs.
Salaam’s family did not return calls for comment.
Salaam, 42, was found dead on Dec. 5 in Eben G. Fine Park in Boulder. A source with knowledge of the investigation told the Daily Camera that Salaam suffered what is suspected to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.
Jabali Alaji told USA Today on Monday that he believed his brother displayed “all the symptoms” of CTE, including depression and memory loss.
Deputy Boulder County coroner Dustin Bueno said that CTE examinations are not done in routine autopsies. He said that brain matter would need to be sent to an outside lab for testing, but added that they would do so only with the family’s permission.
While his brother suspects CTE, some who knew Salaam told the Daily Camera after his death that he struggled with bipolar disorder, which ran in his family.
“It was biological,” said Mike Tanner, a former CU football player and a friend of Salaam. “It was in his blood and he inherited it.”
Tanner remembers discussing CTE with Salaam after the suicide death of longtime NFL linebacker Junior Seau. Seau notably shot himself in the chest to preserve his brain for study.
“I was sitting in (Rashaan’s) house and I said, ‘Do you think you struggle with concussions or do you think this could be a part of you feeling down and out sometimes?’
“He said, ‘I got my bell rung a couple of times, but nothing to keep me out of a game. I can’t recall a severe concussion ever,’ ” Tanner said.
“He never thought that there was anything to it with him. I wouldn’t rule it out, but it was never a big concern of his.”