Greg Clark, who played four seasons in the NFL with the San Francisco 49ers, has died, his family said Friday. He was 49 years old.
There was no official cause of death for the retired athlete, however, his family said in a statement that he had recently “suffered from CTE symptoms”.
CTE, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy, is a progressive and deadly brain disease associated with recurrent traumatic brain injury (TBI), including convulsions and recurrent head injuries, according to the Alzheimer Association.
In a study published in the medical journal JAMA in July 2017, CTE was found in 99% of the brains of dead NFL players donated for scientific research.
“It is with great sadness that we announce the unexpected departure of Greg Clark, 49, a beloved wife, father, son, brother and friend to so many,” the family said in a statement. “Greg was a dedicated family man who was successful in everything he did, from his academic and athletic achievements as a Stanford student athlete to his role as a tight end for the San Francisco 49ers, to building a successful real estate platform in the whole bay area. “
“Most importantly, he was a loving and devoted father of three sons and a loving husband to his 23-year-old wife,” he continued. “His recent suffering from CTE symptoms cannot eliminate the extent of his effects on us and others and we are forever grateful for the time we had with him. We hope that through further research we can gain more knowledge about CTE. “
Clark was drafted by the 49ers in the third round of the 1997 NFL Draft. He played four seasons with the NFL team before bowing to injury.
The group issued a statement on Friday stating, “Our bodies are deeply saddened to learn of Greg Clark’s death. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.”