Former NFL player Tyler Sash, who died this past September at the age of 27, had the degenerative brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE.
Chris Nowinski of the Boston University-affiliated Concussion Legacy Foundation confirmed the diagnosis on Tuesday night. The finding was first reported by The New York Times.
CTE, which can be diagnosed only after death, has been found in the brains of dozens of former football players. Linked to repeated brain trauma, it is associated with symptoms such as memory loss, impaired judgment, depression, and, eventually, progressive dementia.
Sash, who played in parts of two NFL seasons with the New York Giants after playing three college seasons at the University of Iowa, was found dead at his home Sept. 8. The immediate cause of death was given as an accidential overdose of painkillers after mixing two powerful pain medications. The Iowa State Medical Examiner's office said a history of painful injuries had been a contributing factor.
The Times reported that the CTE in Sash's brain was at about the same level as that found in the brain of the late NFL star Junior Seau, who committed suicide in 2012 at age 43.
Months after Sash won Super Bowl 46 as a rookie with the Giants, he was suspended for four games in 2012 for violating the NFL's performance-enhancing substances policy by testing positive for Adderall, a stimulant used primarily to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and the sleep disorder narcolepsy. The Giants cut ties with Sash prior to the 2013 opener, reaching an injury settlement after he sustained a concussion in the preseason finale against New England.
The Times reported that after leaving the NFL, Sash suffered from occasional memory loss and had diffuculty focusing, a trait which hindered his ability to keep a job.
At Iowa, Sash started 37 games from 2007-10, earning first-team All-Big Ten honors in his final season. He bypassed his fourth year of eligibility to enter the NFL draft.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.