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Cause of death for Bucs star Vincent Jackson was chronic alcohol use, medical examiner rules

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
Mke Carlson
The Florida Channel
Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Vincent Jackson signs autographs during NFL football training camp Thursday, July 25, 2013, in Tampa, An autopsy has found that Jackson died from chronic alcohol use. Researchers say the popular Tampa Bay player had CTE when he was found dead in February 2021,

The medical examiner reported that the Bucs' star had a blood-alcohol level of 0.28 at the time of his death. Researchers previously said he had stage 2 CTE.

Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers receiver Vincent Jackson died from chronic alcohol use, according to the Hillsborough County medical examiner’s office.

ESPNfirst reported results of Jackson’s autopsy, which listed Jackson with a blood-alcohol level of 0.28 at the time of his death.

Researchers diagnosed Jackson as suffering from stage 2 chronic traumatic encephalopathy. His family has released the findings of a study conducted by the Boston-based Concussion Legacy Foundation’s brain bank in hopes of raising awareness of CTE and the risks of the disease.

The autopsy noted that Jackson's death was "natural" but that he had ailments consistent with chronic alcohol use, including alcoholic cardiomyopathy, hepatic steatosis and fibrosis, esophageal varices, ascites, jaundice, remote pancreatitis, renal failure and hyponatremia dehydration, cardiovascular disease, and intoxication by ethyl alcohol.

On Feb. 15, the 38-year-old was found dead in a hotel room at the Homewood Suites in Brandon by a housekeeper. There were no apparent signs of trauma. Jackson had apparently been living at the hotel about a month.

The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office said Jackson was first reported missing by his family the week before his body was found. A report was filed, but deputies talked to him at the hotel so the case was canceled.

The three-time Pro Bowler played for the Bucs from 2012 to 2016, setting a number of team records. That followed seven seasons with the San Diego Chargers, who drafted Jackson in 2005.

Jackson was involved with the Tampa Bay community, with his Jackson in Action 83 Foundation providing tickets to military families at Bucs' home games. Both of Jackson's parents served in the military, and Jackson had also written a children’s book series that helped children in military families.

CTE is a brain degeneration likely caused by repeated head traumas. Diagnosis can only be made posthumously by studying sections of the brain. According to the foundation, CTE symptoms include memory loss, confusion, impaired judgment, impulse control problems, aggression, depression, anxiety, suicidality and progressive dementia.

Jackson had no legal or alcohol-related issues with the Bucs. While in San Diego, he served five years of probation after pleading guilty in 2006 to misdemeanor drunken driving. I n 2009, he was sentenced to four days in a work-release program and five years of probation after pleading guilty to another DUI charge. He also served a three-game suspension after the latter arrest.

I’m the online producer for Health News Florida, a collaboration of public radio stations and NPR that delivers news about health care issues.