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    This reporter has been covering CTE for 10 years. Here’s what he’s learned

    Bill Lenkaitis (67) played for the Patriots from 1971-1981.
    Globe Staff/File 1974
    Bill Lenkaitis (67) played for the Patriots from 1971-1981. Lenkaitis was afflicted with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

    This story first appeared in the Globe Investigates newsletter. You can sign up for that here.

    Ten years ago this week, I wrote my first story about chronic traumatic encephalopathy, the incurable brain disease linked to head blows in football. Since then, I’ve spent years examining the work of CTE researchers, the NFL’s practices, and the heart-wrenching stories of former players who died with the disease and those who are living with its symptoms.

    CTE has robbed once-elite athletes of their personalities, their memories, their abilities to reason. Nearly half of the Patriots on the first three Super Bowl-winning teams report brain injuries. Most recently, I joined the Spotlight Team to investigate the life and death of former Patriots star Aaron Hernandez, the third former Patriot afflicted with CTE who took his own life.

    Much has changed in the last 10 years. The NFL has agreed to pay more than $1 billion to settle brain-injury complaints. Rules have been adopted to better protect players, even as parents have grown increasingly wary about exposing their children to the risks. But the story’s final chapter has yet to be written.

    Read some of Hohler’s coverage of brain injuries in football:


    Warning signs on youth football head trauma (Jan. 2009)

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    Proposed NFL concussion deal signals new era (Aug. 2013)

    Brain risk seen in early-age football (Aug. 2015)

    Former Patriot Kevin Turner died from CTE, not ALS (Nov. 2016)

    Study links youth football to greater risk of later health problems (Sept. 2017)


    Big men with broken minds: The largely forgotten faces of the Patriots franchise (Oct. 2017)

    Ex-Patriot Nick Buoniconti to donate brain for CTE research (Nov. 2017)

    Aaron Hernandez’s brain was severely afflicted by CTE (Nov. 2017)

    Nearly half of Patriots on first 3 Super Bowl-winning teams report brain injuries (March 2018)

    Denied benefits, delayed payments, and the bureaucratic roadblocks of the NFL’s concussion settlement (March 2018)


    Billion-dollar NFL concussion settlement ‘on the brink of collapse’ (March 2018)

    Ailing former Patriots, feeling spurned by the NFL, turn to a clinic with a founder of dubious repute (April 2018)

    ‘Gladiator: Aaron Hernandez and Football Inc.’ (Oct. 2018)