The family of Matt Ulrich, the Super Bowl winner who died suddenly this week at 41, are donating some of his brain tissue to research into CTE.
Ulrich was a father of four young sons at the time of his shock death. A cause has not yet been announced.
According to the obituary for Ulrich on the Dokken Nelson Funeral Service website, the company organizing his funeral in his native Bozeman, Ulrich’s brain tissue will be used for scientists to further understand the neurodegenerative disease.
‘He served on the Advisory Board of Harvard Medical School’s Football Health Study, a long-term research effort into NFL players’ health,’ it said.
‘He had a long-standing interest in the neurodegenerative disease, chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, and his family has donated some of his brain tissue as a way to further the understanding of this disease.’
CTE can only be diagnosed once a person has passed. It is especially prevalent in former football players.
Ulrich’s wife, Alison, posted a heartbreaking tribute to Ulrich under a picture of them with their four sons.
‘As many of you know, one of a kind Matt has passed away and is in a better place,’ she wrote.
‘Matt, we love you so much. You are profoundly missed. We all want you back for just one more day. One more hug. One more kiss. One more laugh. One more joke. One more wrestle with the boys. It seems impossible to do this life without you.
‘Please pray for peace and comfort for the boys. They have lost their greatest fan, coach and friend.
‘I don’t have details on a service yet but will post here when I do. Thank you to everyone for reaching out and offering help. We appreciate it and are surrounded in love.’
A fundraiser was set up for Alison and her four sons Gunther, Dalton, Bowden and Thoreau and so far has raised just over $54,000 at the time of writing.
The father-of-four’s death was announced this week by Jim Irsay, the owner of the Indianapolis Colts who Ulrich played for in the NFL and won the Super Bowl with.
Irsay wrote on Wednesday: ‘I am heartbroken to hear of the passing of Matt Ulrich.
‘Matt was with us only two seasons, but left his mark on many. Great guy, I hear he was a great dad—and he was a Super Bowl champ. My prayers to his family.’
Irsay played for the Colts when they beat the Chicago Bears 29-17 in February 2007, allowing Ulrich to get his hands on the Vince Lombardi trophy.
Ulrich played as an offensive guard for the Colts and after retiring from the sport, forged a career in the fitness industry. He appeared in just 10 games in his NFL career but during that time, got his hands on the ultimate prize.
Speaking about his move away from football in a Montana Sports interview, Ulrich said: ‘I’d love to tell you that I could have played for another decade… the NFL stands for ‘Not For Long.’
‘I tell the athletes I work with, have something past football.’