Ryan Leaf Tearfully Slams the NFL's Response to Mental Health Following Vincent Jackson's Death

Vincent Jackson’s death on Feb. 15 may have been linked to alcoholism and CTE, Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister says

Ryan Leaf
Photo: Allen Berezovsky/Getty

Retired NFL quarterback Ryan Leaf made a tearful plea on Tuesday for the football league to "do something" amid Vincent Jackson's death.

Jackson, 38, was found dead in a Florida hotel room on Monday. The 12-year NFL veteran may have suffered from alcoholism and concussion-linked brain disease, the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office told PEOPLE on Wednesday.

"I don't know what the f– to do anymore. My NFL brothers continue to die and nobody's doing a goddamn thing about it," Leaf, 44, said in a passionate speech shared on Twitter.

He continued, "I just talked to another brother and he spent the weekend in the psych ward."

"The NFL just doesn't f—ing care. They don't care," the former NFL player said. "They'll write condolence letters and s— like that, but if they were invested, they'd actually put some money behind the Legends Community and into the mental health, substance abuse side of it."

Vincent Jackson
Vincent Jackson. Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

The Legends Community is a resource meant to help players in several facets of their life from draft day through "the rest of your life."

"Once you're bad for the brand, the shield, they could give two s—s. I don't know what the hell to do," Leaf continued.

He added, "They don't get how precious life is, and then I have this f—ing survivor's guilt. A ton of it."

Leaf played for the NFL from 1998 to 2002 with the San Diego Chargers and the Dallas Chargers in addition to some offseasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Seattle Seahawks.

WARNING: Below video contains explicit language

Following his retirement, Leaf had several legal troubles and prison stints stemming from drug abuse and possession. Since getting sober, he's done work to help recovering addicts, spoken at drug prevention seminars, and been a fierce advocate for better mental health services in the NFL.

"You need to do something. Just be part of the solution, please," Leaf said at the end of his tearful video posted on Monday.

He captioned the clip, "I don't know who needs to hear this, or if I just needed to say it, but I will not continue to stand by and watch my brothers disappear because the multi billion $$$ corporation won't do the right thing. @nfl@NFLPA do something!!" #igoturback#nflbrotherhood

Vincent Jackson
Al Messerschmidt/Getty

An autopsy has yet to confirm Jackson's cause of death, but sheriff's suspect it to be CTE. A number of former NFL players have been posthumously diagnosed with the brain disease caused by repeated concussions and trauma to the head.

In a 2017 study of the brains of 111 deceased NFL players, a Boston University researcher found 110 of them had the disease.

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"[The family believes] wholeheartedly that all of these actions are a result of what he suffered from while he played in the NFL," Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister told Q105 on Wednesday, admitting the subject was still speculation at this point.

CTE can cause symptoms of depression, impulsive behavior, short-term memory loss and emotional instability, according to the Mayo Clinic.

The NFL did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.

If you or someone you know need mental health help, text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 to be connected to a certified crisis counselor.

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