Missing Ohio State Football Player Complained of Concussions Before Death
After a four day search, missing Ohio State football player Kosta Karageorge was found dead in a dumpster a block from his home just south of Ohio State’s campus. Police are saying he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, though a final analysis is pending.
The 22-year-old Karageorge was a hard worker and the toughest guy on the team, according to his close friend and fellow defensive lineman Michael Bennett. Before walking-on the team his senior year, Karageorge had been on the wrestling team for three years. According to Bennett, Karageorge had failed to report several concussions, both during his time on the wrestling team and on the football team. “But we didn’t see any side effects of it,” insists Bennett.
Until now. Karageorge’s mother became concerned Wednesday evening when she received a text from her son that said, “I am sorry if I am an embarrassment but these concussions have my head all [messed] up.” She received the text at 1:30am, and soon after reported Karageorge missing. Out of concern for Karageorge’s concussion history, the coroner has decided to include an examination of Karageorge’s brain in the autopsy. And my questions begin here: will the Columbus coroner know how to search for signs of CTE and other signs of trauma to the brain?
Karageorge’s mother said he had a concussion as recently as last month. Karageorge’s sister says she knows he had a concussion in September. Both claim that he complained of “having spells of being extremely confused.” And yet, Ohio State team doctor Jim Borchers released a statement saying, “We are confident in our medical procedures and policies to return athletes to participation following injury or illness.” So, what’s happening here? What’s the disconnect?
The bottom line is this: we don’t understand brains that well. Karageorge might have felt confused one day, but then felt fine the next two weeks. Being the tough guy his teammate Bennett insists he was, Karageorge would have returned to practice thinking nothing of it. And if he did seek out team doctors to talk about it – we don’t know, because they won’t release that information – there’s a good chance Karageorge could either fool them or that they might have misdiagnosed it.
If Karageorge did have CTE, or something like it, there’s not yet a way of knowing until the post-mortem analysis. Right now, that’s just the way it is. What’s disconcerting is that, in addition to this uncertainty in properly diagnosing players with concussion histories, there are people, teams and administrations who are attempting to hide the player’s history or, worse, claim ignorance. For now, we have to hope that’s not what’s happening here with Ohio State.