Au­topsy done, but CTE test is un­likely

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Mitchell Byars

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.”

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