COLUMBUS, OH – Football fans throughout the United States know all too well the devastasting long-term injuries that can befell their beloved players – including brain injuries from recurrent concussions – and now this has touched the Greek-American community with the suicide of 22 year-old Kosta Karageorge.
Karageorge played football, and wrestled, for Ohio State University’s Buckeyes, one of America’s premier college athletic organizations. But the wrestling – often mentioned in his posthumous biography by the media – is almost irrelevant, for it was football that caused the repeated concussions that caused Karageorge’s erratic behavior and inability to cope with it.
On November 26 – Thanksgiving Eve – Karageorge sent a text to his mother, apologizing for having become “an embarrassment” due to his behavior. Then, he disappeared. He was found four days later – the Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend – in a garbage dumpster, dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. His mother, Susan, told the authorities that he had several episodes of being extremely confused. Before Karageorge’s body was discovered but after his family reported him missing, his sister Sophia told the Columbus Dispatch “every time he’s had a concussion, he’s been evaluated and listened to his trainers. He’s been properly taken care of by OSU the entire time he’s been an athlete for them.: She added, however, that “his repercussions from them have been longterm or delayed after the fact.”
CONCUSSIONS AND SUICIDES
An autopsy will be performed, and even though Karageorge apparently shot himself in the head, the coroner hopes to be able to perform the all-important study of Karageorge’s brain – important, that is, to learning more about what causes some who suffer multiple concussions to take their own lives.
Most recently and famously, Junior Seau, a retired National Football League (NFL) player who had a stellar career, killed himself – in 2012 – with a gunshot to the chest, emulating the behavior a year earlier of another retired NFL player, also with a distinguished career, Dave Duerson, who left a suicide note, indicating that he would (and did) shoot himself in the chest, not the head, specifically in order to leave his brain intact for science to study. Both players experienced numerous concussions throughout their careers.
Though Karageorge was not a pro, his football team’s prestige routinely earns national press coverage and, in turn, his suicide has been widely reported throughout the media.
Perhaps the two highest-profile football starts devastated by concussions are two of the game’s greatest players in the 1970s – Terry Bradshaw and Tony Dorsett. Bradshaw, a quarterback, led the Pittsburgh Steelers to four Super Bowl victories in that decade, one of them against Dorsett’s (running back) Dallas Cowboys. Dorsett has been diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disease resulting from multiple concussions. Bradshaw, who has enjoyed much success off the field as a football broadcast analyst, revealed in the aftermath of Duerson’s and Seau’s suicides that he would not want his son to play football.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), which regulates college sports – including the football games that Karageorge played at Ohio State – this past summer devoted $70 million for a fund to study and hopefully prevent CTE. The organization determined, the Washington Post reported, that football players are three times more likely to determine CTE than anyone else.
The Post also reported a study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health in January, which found that repeatedly-concussed teens are three times more likely to develop depression.
While Karageorge, a 6-5 285-pound defensive tackle, remained missing on Thanksgiving Weekend Saturday, Nov. 29, his team defeated rival Michigan 42-28, without him. Teammates told the press that when he missed practice – which apparently he never did before – they started getting nervous.