Isaiah Langston

ISAIAH LANGSTON, 17, lineman with Rolesville HS (NC), died on 9/29/14 after collapsing on the field before a 9/26 game.  His older brother, Aijalon, a marine stationed in Maryland, came to WakeMed Hospital on hearing of the collapse, and, while the exact cause of death is not yet known, said it had something to do with a blood clot in Isaiah’s brain.—“ROLESVILLE HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBAL PLAYER DIES AFTER COLLAPSING ON THE FIELD”, 9/29/14, Andrea Blanford.

11/12/14 Update: Langston died from a hit to the back of the head, according to an autopsy as reported by WTVD in Raleigh-Durham.  The medical examiner listed the official cause of death as “complications of vertebral artery dissection due to blunt force injury of the head and neck.”  The report said Langston had a “large posterior circulation stroke…which most likely occurred secondary to vertebral dissection.”—“Autopsy: North Carolina football player died from hit to the head”, USA Today 11/12/14.

Evan Raines

EVAN RAINES, 16, defensive end with Seventy-First HS (NC), died on 8/3/13 after falling ill at the end of practice, when he informed a coach.  He had complained of chest pains and shortness of breath.  He was treated by emergency medical workers before being transported to Cape Fear Valley Medical Center, where he died.  Raines had passed a physical examination prior to the beginning of practice.  He started playing football when he was 3 and dreamed of playing for Alabama and in the NFL.  He taught bible lessons at the family church.  More than a year later, the North Carolina Medical Examiner’s Office report stated that Raines died of cardiac arrhythmia—an irregular heartbeat—after he collapsed while running wind sprints.  He had no drugs or alcohol in his system and was properly hydrated against the heat index of between 88 and 91 degrees, with 70% humidity.  His heart was slightly enlarged and got its primary blood supply from the right coronary artery, which is not typical.  There were signs his heart had healed from myocarditis, or inflammation of the heart muscle.  The report suggested a genetic heart condition could be to blame, but did not cite specifics.  It also said Raines was diagnosed with hypertension in May 2013 but was not seen by a cardiologist to verify it.  His father, Rodney Raines, disputes this part of the report.  “He was not hypertensive.  They never addressed to us that he had hypertension.”—“Dad: 71st player who died at practice ‘was a jewel to me’”, 8/4/13 (updated 8/19/13), Brandon Herring.  “Report: Seventy-First football player Evan Raines died of irregular heartbeat”, 8/27/14, Earl Vaughn Jr.

Watch the following VIDEO from WNCN:  Dad: 71st player who died at practice ‘was a jewel to me’

Atlas Fraley

ATLAS FRALEY, 17, lineman with Chapel Hill HS, died at home alone on 8/12/08 after a scrimmage and complaining of a headache and cramping.  He called 911 and said he was sore all over his body and needed an IV.  He was treated by emergency medical services at his home but not taken to the hospital.  His parents, Malinda and David Fraley, later found him dead.  Fraley had collapsed from dehydration after a football practice in 2007 and required emergency medical treatment.  A lawsuit filed against the school district claims that David Fraley spoke to Coach Isaac Marsh about the 2007 incident and the need for fluids for his son during practice and was assured by Marsh that fluids would be made available.  But on the day of Atlas’s death, the suit claims, no fluids were available, that Atlas was in obvious distress and lay down on the ground, but that Marsh did not call for medical help.—“Autopsy: Player died of natural causes”, 3/19/09, WTVD-TV/DT, Tamara Gibbs.  “School system wants monetary information for Fraleys’ lawsuit”, 12/28/12, Beth Velliquette.


Watch the following VIDEO from ABC Local: Autopsy: Player died of natural causes

Joseph Chernach

JOSEPH CHERNACH, 25, all-state defensive back with Forest Park HS (WI), died on 6/6/12 after suffering from depression and was found to have Stage II, possibly Stage III CTE (with Stage IV being the most severe).  He was an honor student, an Upper Peninsula wrestling and pole vault champion who later attended Central Michigan University and worked for Black River Falls School District.  He played Pop Warner, junior varsity and varsity football.  “Joseph never played college or pro-sports and we do not know of any concussions during his middle or high school years,” said his mother, Debra Pyka.  Dr. Ann McKee’s report noted “numerous tau neurofibrillary tangles in the locus coeruleus, an area of the brain thought to play a role in mood regulation and depression.  The changes in the frontal lobes and locus coeruleus were the most severe I’ve seen in a person this age.”—“JOSEPH CHERNACH”,, Debra Pyka, his mother (2/21/14 press release from the Sports Legacy Institute). 6/11/12, obituary.

2/6/15 Chernach Update: Joseph Chernach’s mother, Debra Pyka, has filed a $5 million wrongful death lawsuit against Pop Warner youth football, claiming dementia and deep despair caused by brain injuries he suffered while playing youth football influenced his suicide. Chernach hanged himself in his mother’s shed in Hixton, WI, on 6/6/12. The lawsuit says he suffered from CTE that originated in Pop Warner Football when he was 11, playing 4 years (1997-2000), and that Chernach, other children and parents were not warned about the dangers of playing tackle football. It also alleges Pop Warner Football is an “ultrahazardous activity” that is intrinsically dangerous to children. The suit says the effects of the diseases began to affect him in his sophomore year of college, when his behavior became increasingly bizarre, as he became progressively depressed and ultimately paranoid, distrusting his close friends and family. He stopped going to class, would sleep all day and be up at night. Pyka’s lawyer, Gordon Johnson, said they think there have been hundreds of other suicides in which autopsies, had they been done, would have pointed the finger at youth football.—“Pop Warner youth football blamed for Wisconsin man’s suicide”, 2/6/15, AP.

Kort Breckenridge

KORT BRECKENRIDGE, 25, co-captain linebacker with Teton Valley High School (ID), nearly died after making a routine tackle in a senior night game on 10/7/05.  He sustained a concussion on the play and was the victim of Second Impact Syndrome (SIS), a condition where someone sustains a second concussion before the symptoms of a previous concussion have cleared up.  He had had a concussion a month before.  In Breckenridge’s case, not unusual, he had hidden multiple previous concussions, which caused vomiting.  Each successive concussion sustained makes a person more susceptible to the next.  The brain reaches a state where it cannot auto-regulate its blood flow.  His brain had such severe swelling that his right hemisphere was removed and he was put into a medically induced coma.  He survived but tires easily, has very poor short term memory, slurred speech, and walks with a limp.—New York Times video 9/15/07, by Matthew Orr and Alan Schwarz, contained within an article on MIKE BORICH, “Concussion Trauma Risk Seen in Amateur Athlete”, NY Times 10/21/09, Alan Schwarz.  (Borich was a Western Illinois wide receiver who died at 42 of a drug overdose after a downward spiral of depression, and had CTE.)

Zadock Dinkelmann

ZADOCK DINKELMANN, 14, quarterback with Somerset Junior HS (TX), has orally committed to play for Louisiana State University.  The 6’4” eighth grader is the nephew of former NFL quarterbacks, Ty and Koy Detmer.  He’s at least the third junior HS student from Texas to commit this school year.—“Texas junior high QB, 14, commits to play for LSU”, San Antonio Express-News from AP, 2/24/14.