Researchers say Raiders great Ken Stabler had Stage 3 CTE

Oakland Raiders great Ken Stabler, who died of colon cancer last year, had Stage 3 CTE according to researchers at Boston University.

Tony Tomsic/NFL

After former Oakland Raiders quarterback Ken Stabler died of colon cancer last July, his brain was removed at his request and sent to researchers at Boston University as part of their study into chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, in former NFL players.

They found that Stabler had high Stage 3 CTE (on a scale of 1-4), The New York Times reported on Wednesday.

CTE is a degenerative brain disease that researchers believe is caused by repeated blows to the head. It can only be diagnosed after death and has been found in the brains of dozens of former players. Symptoms include memory loss, depression and progressive dementia. Boston University’s and its "Brain Bank" of over 200 brains has led the research into the disease.

The NY Times had this statement from Dr. Ann McKee, a professor of neurology at Boston University who conducted the examination:

"He had moderately severe disease. Pretty classic. It may be surprising since he was a quarterback, but certainly the lesions were widespread, and they were quite severe, affecting many regions of the brain."

Stabler had asked for his brain to be studied after his death in hopes it would explain his diminished mental capacity in later years.

He’s a finalist for this year’s Pro Football Hall of Fame selections, which will be announced Saturday.