'I am terrified': Eugene Monroe cites CTE fear as he quits NFL at 29

Eugene Monroe

Eugene Monroe has become the latest NFL player to retire early citing fears over CTE, the degenerative brain disease found in athletes with a history of head trauma.

The 29-year-old was released by the Baltimore Ravens in June, a move he believes was linked to his support of marijuana as way of relieving pain for athletes. Until his release Monroe was widely acknowledged as a solid starting offensive tackle. Writing on the Players’ Tribune, Monroe painted a disturbing picture of symptoms he has displayed associated with CTE.

“My wife used to joke about the ‘little things I forget,’ but now she’s more concerned about things like me putting my phone in the freezer and then tearing up our house looking for it,” Monroe wrote. “Things like that were just a joke around the house until this past winter, when my four-year-old daughter said, ‘Daddy you don’t remember anything!’ Since then, she’s said it a few more times.”

Monroe said he plans to consult with a doctor about his health but admits he has concerns for his future. “The last 18 years have been full of traumatic injuries to both my head and my body. I’m not complaining, just stating a fact. Has the damage to my brain already been done? Do I have CTE? I hope I don’t, but over 90% of the brains of former NFL players that have been examined showed signs of the disease. I am terrified.”

CTE can currently only be diagnosed after death.

Monroe was the eighth overall pick for the Jacksonville Jaguars in the 2009 draft. He joins a long list of NFL players who have retired in their prime this year: Pro Bowlers Marshawn Lynch and Jerod Mayo both left the league at the age of 29, while Calvin Johnson, one of the greatest wide receivers of all time, decided to retire at 30, citing the toll the game has put on his body.

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