Aaron Hernandez had severe case of brain disease

Former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez had a severe case of the degenerative brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy, researchers said Thursday. His lawyer announced a lawsuit against the NFL and the team for hiding the true dangers of the sport.

Dr. Ann McKee, the director of the CTE Center at Boston University, said Hernandez had Stage 3 (out of 4) of the disease, which can cause violent mood swings, depression and other cognitive disorders.

“We’re told it was the most severe case they had ever seen for someone of Aaron’s age,” attorney Jose Baez said.

Hernandez killed himself in April in the prison cell where he was serving a life-without-parole sentence for murder. Baez said Hernandez had shown signs of memory loss, impulsivity and aggression that could be attributed to CTE.

“When hindsight is 20-20, you look back and there are things you might have noticed,” he said, “but you don’t know.”

CTE, which can be diagnosed only in an autopsy, has been found in former members of the military, football players and boxers and others who have been subjected to repeated head trauma.

League’s support urged: Several current and former NFL players have asked Commissioner Roger Goodell for the league’s support for their campaign for racial equality and criminal-justice reform.

Yahoo Sports reported the players sent a 10-page memo to Goodell and NFL executive Troy Vincent in August asking for money, political involvement and other commitments from the league. It also asked the NFL to recognize the month of November as activism awareness month.

The website reported that Seattle defensive end Michael Bennett, Philadelphia safety Malcolm Jenkins and receiver Torrey Smith, and former 49ers receiver Anquan Boldin co-authored the letter. The NFL declined comment when asked about the memo by Yahoo Sports. The players behind the letter didn’t return requests for comment or declined to speak about it, according to the website.

Packers’ Perry out: Green Bay lost another key player to injury with outside linebacker Nick Perry scheduled to have hand surgery. Head coach Mike McCarthy says he doesn’t know how much time Perry will miss. He was off to a good start as the bookend to fellow edge rusher Clay Matthews with 1½ sacks.

The Packers’ first-round draft pick in 2012, Perry had a breakout season in 2016 with 11 sacks in 14 games.

The loss of Perry places added importance on the return of Ahmad Brooks, who was a full participant in practice Wednesday after missing the Week 2 loss at Atlanta because of a concussion.

Brooks was signed by the Packers after the 49ers cut him before the regular season. Brooks had 51½ sacks in eight seasons with the 49ers.

Broncos’ Bolles returns: Denver left tackle Garett Bolles returned to practice, four days after hurting his left leg in a game against the Cowboys.

He initially feared it was a season-ending Achilles tendon tear. Bolles was a surprise participant in Thursday’s practice after sitting out Wednesday following confirmation that he had bruised a bone in his lower left leg.

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