Ex-Ravens QB Cullen Finnerty died of pneumonia, had degenerative brain disease, autopsy says
By By Aaron Wilson
The Baltimore Sun|
Aug 08, 2013 | 2:58 PM
Former Ravens reserve quarterback Cullen Finnerty died from pneumonia triggered by swallowing his own vomit, according to an autopsy report published today by the Associated Press.
Finnerty was also diagnosed with the degenerative brain disease, chronic traumatic encephalopathy, which has stricken many former football players, according to studies at Boston University.
CTE was also diagnosed in former NFL players Junior Seau and Dave Duerson, who both committed suicide.
Finnery may have been dealing with disorientation and paranoia from taking the prescription pain killer oxycodone in addition to dealing with CTE, per the report. He might also have been dealing with heightened anxiety and confusion from being alone in the woods in Michigan.
The medication was prescribed for back injuries suffered during his time in the NFL and at Grand Valley State.
The finding determined that Finnerty had minimal alcohol consumption on the day he died, with his wife telling authorities that her husband had been addicted to pain killers in the past and had abstained since going to a rehabilitation center over a year prior to his death.
Finnerty led Grand Valley to three Division II national championships before signing with the Ravens as an undrafted free agent in 2007. He never played in a game, but was active for two games during the regular season after being promoted from the practice squad when starter Kyle Boller was injured.
Not tendered a contract after the season, Finnerty signed with the Denver Broncos. He never played in a regular-season game.