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Family members of former football player Phillip Adams want to know if injuries sustained during his NFL carrier could have led to a gruesome mass shooting earlier this month.

As officials continue to investigate, family and friends say Adams had a change in attitude. His sister told USA Today there was some obvious deterioration in his mental health. She and his ex-girlfriend observed increased mood changes and mood swings. The change was sudden, and he became more withdrawn from his family.

While the family presses for answers, the community of Rock Hill, South Carolina, continues to look after Adams killed a well-respected doctor, his wife, two grandchildren, and two service workers at the home that day.

Officers are trying to figure out if a new religious or other ideological interest could cause Adams’ actions. CNN reported local officers found notebooks with “cryptic writing.” Officials also observed designs and emblems. 

Adams will be evaluated for chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) as a part of his autopsy. The Medical University of South Carolina, in collaboration with Boston University, will conduct the analysis. CTE is a degenerative disorder that can lead to violent mood swings and other cognitive challenges.  

According to Adams’ father, the former football player was a patient of Dr. Robert Lesslie. It remains unclear why Adams would target the doctor and his family.  But even if Adams had CTE, it still would not explain his killing six people and himself. 

A 2017 study showed that 99% of deceased players whose brains were studied had CTE. Medical studies have worked to identify CTE in people while they are living. 

 In her interview with USA Today, Adams’ sister Lauren said he was upset about not getting disability benefits from the NFL. Football-related injuries and compensation for former players is an ongoing dispute with some retired players suing the NFL.

 As previously reported by NewsOne, Black retired players filing dementia allege that an evaluation protocol used by the league resulted in Black retirees being denied at a disproportionate rate compared to white players. 

Testing methods used by the NFL include a practice called “race-norming,” which operates from a default of assuming Black people have diminished cognitive functioning compared to white people. Because of that assumption, it is harder for Black players to prove diminished cognitive functioning. 

Per ESPN, Adams’ father told a Charlotte news station that he blamed football for his son’s issues. It’s unclear whether Adams had damage due to long-lasting concussion-related injuries, and results from the autopsy may take a few months.


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