Chronic alcohol use caused Vincent Jackson's death, medical examiner finds

Former Tampa Bay Buccaneer Vincent Jackson died due to chronic alcohol use, according to the Hillsborough County Medical Examiner. 

The medical examiner's final diagnosis was released Wednesday, 10 months after Jackson's body was found in a Brandon hotel room.

The medical examiner's report says Jackson's body exhibited signs of alcohol-related cardiovascular disease, kidney failure, and several minor injuries including a laceration on his head and bruises on his torso and extremities.

The report also notes evidence of stage 2 chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a disease which Jackson's family said the 38-year-old began noticing symptoms of at least eight years before his death, but he was never formally diagnosed.

Jackson's wife raises CTE awareness

Earlier this month, Jackson's widow, Lindsey, revealed to ABC News that her late husband's brain had been donated to researchers studying CTE in former NFL players. 

Lindsey said Vincent suffered for years from memory loss, erratic behavior, and was relying on alcohol to handle the symptoms. 

PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 28: Wide receiver Vincent Jackson #83 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers looks on from the field after a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on September 28, 2014 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Buccaneers defeate

"He shared with me once that alcohol made him feel calm," she explained, "and made him feel like himself and that his brain was really fuzzy and this made it not fuzzy."

Despite Jackson's symptoms, Lindsey said the post-mortem CTE diagnosis was surprising, considering he was never diagnosed with a concussion during his professional football career.

Jackson's family release the findings of his brain study to help raise awareness for CTE symptoms and risk factors. 

RELATED: Vincent Jackson’s former teammate worries about CTE after playing football for nearly 20 years

Dr. Dan Daneshvar, a neuroscientist, brain injury physician with Harvard Medical School, told FOX 13 the disease is common in football players who have had too many hits to the head.   

"Many families of individuals who have ended up being found to have CTE reported similar changes in their loved ones," he said. "Changes in their mood like depression, changes in their behavior like flying off the handle." 

According to Boston University, where Jackson's brain was studied, the odds of a football player developing CTE could increase as much as 30% for each year they play. CTE is described as a progressive degenerative brain disease caused by repetitive head trauma.

Vincent Jackson’s death and legacy

Jackson's widow revealed during her interview that the couple separated earlier this year, before his death. 

Jackson, who lived in South Tampa, began staying at a Tampa-area hotel when his family became concerned about his mental health

According to Hillsborough County deputies, he checked into the hotel on January 11, 2021.

On Feb. 10, 2021, his family reported him missing and a formal report was filed the next day. 

On Feb. 12, deputies located him at the hotel, spoke to him and canceled the missing person case.

On Feb. 15, a housekeeper found him dead at 11:30 a.m.

At the time, the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office said there were no apparent signs of trauma.

"My heart aches for the many loved ones Vincent Jackson leaves behind, from his wife and children to the Buccaneers nation that adored him," said Sheriff Chad Chronister in a statement.

Chronister said Jackson was made an honorary Hillsborough County deputy three years ago "to recognize his dedication to the community."

Vincent played 12 seasons in the NFL, five of those seasons were with the Bucs. He retired in 2018. 

After his death, the Buccaneers released a statement, saying the team was "shocked and saddened to hear the terrible news" of Jackson's death.

"During his five seasons with our franchise, Vincent was a consummate professional, who took a great deal of pride in his performance on and off the football field. Vincent was a dedicated father, husband, businessman and philanthropist, who made a deep impact on our community through his unyielding advocacy for military families, supported by the Jackson in Action 83 Foundation," the team's statement read.

Jackson was a three-time Pro Bowl selection for the Bucs, but the team said "his greatest achievements as a Buccaneer were the four consecutive nominations he earned as our Walter Payton Man of the Year."