Pro football player donates brain to research


A former player in the Canadian Football League has donated his brain to research, renewing dialogue about the long-term effects of head injury in professional contact sports.


John Forzani, former Calgary Stampeders offensive lineman, died last week at the age of 67 following a heart attack. His brain will go to the Canadian Sports Concussion Project to help with studies concerning head trauma in CFL players. Forzani had suffered several concussions throughout his six-season career, once even playing with a broken helmet after a hard hit to the head. The results of the study of his brain will made public in a few weeks.


Dr. Charles Tator, the neurosurgeon who heads the fifteen scientists and clinicians associated with the project, has asked more players to donate, saying that they need a total of about 50 brains of CFL players in order to come to definitive conclusions. As of now, they’ve only been able to study six, three of which had suffered Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy.


According to friends, Forzani saw the need for more research about brain injury and CTE and therefore donated his brain in order to help players going forward. If more follow his example, perhaps future generations will be able to play it safer.


*Scientists have no conclusive evidence as to whether or how the reduction of g-forces during impacts reduces the number or degree of concussions and head injuries. GelDefender products provide supplemental padding as well as cooling and comfort benefits when used with helmets and caps. Participants in activities in which head impacts can occur should always use tested and approved helmets for protection. However, no helmet or supplemental padding can protect the user from all serious head or neck injuries that can result from impacts.