KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Former Kansas City Chiefs safety Caesar Belser’s brain will be donated to science to help research into a degenerative brain condition, his children said.
Belser, who played for the Chiefs from 1968 to 1971, died over the weekend of lung cancer, according to his son, Jason Belser, and his daughter, Cecilia Belser-Patton.
The family will donate his brain to the University of Texas Southwestern and Dr. Bennet Omalu, a key figure in researching chronic traumatic encephalopathy, The Kansas City Star reported. His children said Belser suffered from cognitive impairment, brain trauma and dementia later in life, and complained of memory loss in the last four years.
“After a discussion with his wife and our family, we just thought it was something that needed to be done,” said Jason Belser. “I just wouldn’t be able to sleep with myself knowing that we didn’t give him every opportunity to understand what was ailing him and the impact (it had on) him in his later days.”
The family agrees with Omalu’s work, said Cecilia Belser-Patton.
“I think it is our commitment to uphold players’ dignity and their worth beyond the football field,” she said. “We want to ensure their health, care and who they are as men, as people, supersedes who they are as athletes. Whatever we can do to help Dr. Omalu, we’re planning on doing as a family.”
Jason Belser said he first took his father to the Mayo Clinic in February 2015 for an evaluation done through the NFL Players Trust, which was created in 2013 to support for former NFL players’ health and transition from professional football.
Jason Belser, who played for 11 years in the NFL, said realizing he could one day suffer the same fate prompted him to already decide to donate his brain to research after he dies.
“You’ve got to know the return on investment,” Besler said. “Is it worth it or is it not? I have a son who, if he decides to play, I want him to have as much information as humanly possible to make a decision.”
After the elder Belser retired from the NFL in 1974 with the San Francisco 49ers, he worked at Southwestern Bell Yellow Pages in Kansas City before moving to St. Louis in 1983 and then the Dallas-Fort Worth area in 1987.
The elder Belser be buried next weekend in Montgomery, Alabama, his childhood home.
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