FILE – In this Oct. 17, 2010 file photo, San Francisco 49ers cornerback Phillip Adams sits on the sideline during the first quarter of an NFL football game in San Francisco. A source briefed on a mass killing in South Carolina says the gunman who killed multiple people, including a prominent doctor, was the former NFL pro. The source said that Adams shot himself to death early Thursday, April 8, 2021. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, File)
UPDATED 9:22 AM PT – Sunday, April 11, 2021
Researchers are looking into whether the former NFL player who killed five people in South Carolina suffered from degenerative brain disease. The York County Coroner’s Office announced they contacted Boston University on Friday to conduct the study of 32-year-old Phillip Adams’ brain.
“One of the concerns with football, generally, is a condition called CTE — the fancy term is chronic traumatic encephalopathy,” Sports Medicine Specialist Dr. David Geier stated. “And it’s not always full-blown concussions, it’s the microscopic impacts that occur on every football play; the blocking at the line and the tackling. If that happens over years and years and years, in a certain percentage of football players that can lead to this brain condition.”
Last week, officers said Adams forced his way into the home of Dr. Robert Lesslie. He proceeded to fire as many as 20 shots, killing Lesslie, his wife and two grandchildren.
Two air conditioning techs working at the home were also shot. One was killed while the other remained in critical condition until he succumbed to his injuries.
According to authorities, investigators hadn’t figured out a possible motive.
Adams’ father blames football for the cause of his actions.
“Well, I can say that he was a good kid,” Alonzo Adams, Phillip’s father, stated. “I think the football messed him up. I know they were good folks down there. I don’t know what happened, but we are gonna keep them in our prayers.”
Adams played six seasons on various teams throughout his career in the NFL. According to officials, he suffered at least two concussions within the span of three games in 2012.
CHARLOTTE, NC – DECEMBER 23: Jason Phillips #53, Greg Hardy #76, Jason Williams #54 and Jordan Senn #57 of the Carolina Panthers tackle Phillip Adams #28 of the Oakland Raiders during play at Bank of America Stadium on December 23, 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
CTE is commonly found in those subjected to repeated head trauma, including athletes and former members of the military. The degenerative brain disease results in symptoms such as impulsive and reckless behavior or mood swings. Additionally, Adams’ sister told USA Today, in recent years her brother’s mental health “degraded fast and terribly badly.”
“I feel bad talking about how good of a kid Phillip was when you got five people murdered down the road,” Adams’ family neighbor Duane Belue said. “But the truth is, this young man, he was just a good guy.”
In the meantime, as the coroner’s office teams up with researchers at Boston University, officials said the results of the study are expected to take months.