TAMPA — Former Bucs wide receiver Vincent Jackson died of “chronic alcohol use,” according to the autopsy report released Wednesday by the Hillsborough County Medical Examiner’s office, ten months after he was found dead in a Brandon hotel room.
The toxicology report showed three measurements of Jackson’s blood alcohol content ranged from .28 to .32, four times what the state considers impairment.
The University of Rochester Medical Center says a blood alcohol level of .20 will lead to vomiting, confusion and staggering around. Jackson was found to have several blunt impact contusions to his head, torso and extremities, according to the findings in the autopsy conducted on Feb. 16.
He also had a mild case of atherosclerosis, a thickening or hardening of the arteries caused by a buildup of plaque in the inner lining, the report said.
Jackson, who played 12 seasons in the NFL, suffered from Stage 2 chronic traumatic encephalopathy, his family said in a statement released last week by the Concussion Legacy Foundation.
According to the Concussion Legacy Foundation, chronic traumatic encephalopathy is a progressive degenerative brain disease caused by repetitive head trauma. Stage 2 symptoms include aggression, impulsivity, depression, anxiety, paranoia, substance abuse and suicidal thoughts.
The medical’s examiner’s report closed the chapter on the circumstances surrounding Jackson’s unexpected death at age 38.
It also helped explain how the 6-foot-5, 230-pound Jackson, so visible in his post-career life as a businessman and philanthropist, could vanish in plain view.
Responding to a missing person’s report filed by Jackson’s family, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office located Jackson at a Homewood Suites at the end of a cluster of hotels on South Falkenburg Road on Feb. 11. He had been living there since January.
Jackson and his wife, Lindsey, married since 2011, had been separated for months when Jackson was located. They have four children.
After finding Jackson, according to a sheriff’s office source, the family sought to file a petition under the Marchman Act. The Florida statute provides for emergency assistance and temporary detention to individuals requiring substance abuse evaluation and treatment.
A housekeeper observed Jackson slumped on a couch in the hotel room the next day but did not enter. On Feb. 15, three days after deputies conducted a wellness visit with Jackson, they entered the room where he had been found dead.
Jackson had small cuts on his scalp and left big toe, the autopsy said, but there were no skull fractures.
According to a preliminary case summary report by the sheriff’s office, there were no medications found in Jackson’s room, but a sheriff’s office source said numerous liquor bottles were discovered.
There were signs of Jackson’s alcohol abuse before he arrived in Tampa Bay as a free agent from the Chargers, where he was named to two Pro Bowls.
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He was arrested and charged with driving under the influence in 2006 and 2009, while playing with the Chargers. He pleaded guilty in both cases and was fined $2,408 and ordered to do a total of 15 days of public service. Because of the DUI arrests, he was suspended for three games to start the 2010 season for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy.
Those problems seemed behind him once he settled in Tampa. He signed a 5-year, $55.5 million contract with the Bucs in 2012, when he led the team with 72 catches for 1,384 yards and eight touchdowns, earning a third trip to the Pro Bowl.
He played five seasons with the Bucs and appeared meticulously prepared for his football afterlife, charging into retirement from the league with multiple business interests.
His parents, Terence and Sherry, each served in the U.S. Army, and Jackson demonstrated his passion for philanthropy with his Jackson in Action 83 Foundation that focused on military families.
He started his primary business venture, CTV Capital, while he was still playing in 2012. A real estate and development company, it offers construction, property management and insurance.
But family members told investigators they had “reason to believe (Jackson) may have suffered from chronic alcoholism and concussions,” according to a statement the sheriff’s office made after Jackson’s death.
The family said last week it would have no further comment.
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