A new article by Sports Illustrated writer Greg Bishop reveals that Tyler Hilinski, the former Washington State University quarterback who committed suicide in January, had Stage 1 chronic traumatic encephalopathy.
Upon testing, Hilinski's brain exhibited the lowest level of CTE. The quarterback never missed time due to a diagnosed concussion, but he did admit to being "rocked" by a hit during a game last October at Arizona. In that game, Hilinski replaced the starting quarterback in the second quarter and went on to complete 45 passes for 509 yards and two touchdowns. He also threw four interceptions, and the Cougars lost, 58-37 — a result that Hilinski reportedly struggled to put behind him.
Bishop's article details how Hilinski's parents have struggled both with the loss of their son and the search for clues as to why he took his own life. Toxicology reports that ruled out any influence of drugs or alcohol only made their grief worse, according to the article. The CTE revelation at last gave the Hilinskis some answers, though they don't blame football.
Still, one unsettling theory emerged, as Bishop notes, "Tyler had been just 21, he hadn’t played that much in college and for most of his life he manned the most protected of positions. If he had CTE, anyone could."