Body of Chiefs LB Belcher exhumed for brain exam

Former Kansas City Chiefs’ linebacker Jovan Belcher’s body has

been exhumed more than a year after he killed his girlfriend and

himself so that his brain can be examined for signs of a

degenerative condition linked to repeated concussions.

Jovan’s family had his body exhumed Friday at North Babylon

Cemetery in the Long Island, N.Y., community of Bay Shore, the

family’s attorney, Dirk Vandever, told The Kansas City Star

(http://bit.ly/18LQqGo ). Vandever didn’t immediately respond to an

email and phone messages left Saturday by The Associated Press.

An examination of Belcher’s brain could determine whether he had

chronic traumatic encephalopathy last December when he killed his

girlfriend Kasandra Perkins, with whom he had an infant daughter,

in their home. Belcher then drove to the Chiefs’ practice facility

and shot himself in the head in the parking lot.

Bennet Omalu, an expert on the destructive brain condition, said

that he ”would bet one month’s salary that (Belcher) had CTE” and

that the local medical examiner should have performed a test for

it.

CTE is a progressive disease linked to multiple concussions. It

has made headlines in recent years with the deaths of some former

professional athletes, and lawsuits filed against the NFL by others

worried about the still unclear toll of a sport that can bring

repeated blows to the head. Symptoms include memory problems,

behavior changes including aggression, and eventually dementia.

Dan Ferguson, a spokesman for Jackson County, stressed the

medical examiner’s job is to determine cause of death and that

removal of an organ or tissue strictly for research isn’t

allowed.

Belcher’s brain also could have been donated for research, but

Vandever said Belcher’s family wasn’t contacted about such a

donation.

The fact that it’s been a year since Belcher died could

complicate the exam. But Omalu said important scientific findings

remain possible, noting that he has found clear evidence of

Alzheimer’s and other brain diseases during autopsies performed on

bodies buried longer than Belcher’s.

Information from: The Kansas City Star,

http://www.kcstar.com