April 22, 2024

Footy great Corey Parker reveals his deadly personal health battle at just 41 years of age

By Andrew Prentice For Daily Mail Australia

01:02 28 Feb 2024, updated 01:31 28 Feb 2024

  • Adamant he is suffering from killer brain disease
  • Broncos great played NRL, rep footy from 2001 to 2016
  • Star turned TV commentator is noticing his brain deteriorate

NRL legend Corey Parker has revealed he has ‘no doubt’ he is suffering from the effects of the fatal brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

Parker, 41, chalked up 347 games for the Broncos, as well 19 appearances for Australia and 13 Origins for Queensland in his decorated career.

The father of four revealed in a radio interview that he is already noticing his brain deteriorate.

CTE is a degenerative brain disorder which has strong links to repeated head knocks, and can only be diagnosed after death. 

It can lead to dementia, personality changes and suicidal thinking, and there is no cure or treatment.

‘This CTE, it’s the word that obviously gets thrown around and rightly so — it is real,’ Parker said on SEN.

NRL legend Corey Parker (pictured with his wife and children) has revealed he has ‘no doubt’ he is suffering from the effects of the fatal brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy
Parker, 41, chalked up 347 games for the Broncos, as well 19 appearances for the Kangaroos and 13 Origins for Queensland in a long and brutal career
The father of four suggested in a radio interview that he is already noticing his brain deteriorate (pictured left, in his current media role with Fox League)

‘I’ve got no doubt; I have no doubt whatsoever over my tenure as a rugby league player that I have symptoms, I have symptoms of CTE. 

‘But it’s something that you can’t really get a grasp on until obviously post-mortem.

‘You can’t expect to play a high-collision sport, [and] for [close to] 20 of those years at a high level, and not have some sort of side effects.

‘You can try and manage different things, but the damage is done, isn’t it?’

Parker added tat the NRL needs to take some accountability for past and present players who suffer from the condition – but is pleased to see changes being introduced at a junior level.

His grim revelation comes after NRL icon Wally Lewis opened up on how his life has been affected by the symptoms of a likely case of CTE. 

Parker also pointed out during his career playing while concussed was widely viewed as a badge of honour – and leaving the field was a sign of weakness.

‘We actually looked at it like, “Oh, this guy is so tough”,’ he said.

Rugby league icon Wally Lewis (pictured with partner Lynda Adams) has been diagnosed with probable chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE)
Lewis sought professional help after the tragic suicide of premiership-winning Cowboys coach Paul Green, who was revealed to have CTE after his death


Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a degenerative brain disease that is caused by repeated hits to the head. Over time, these hits result in the accumulation of tau protein around the brain, which can lead to confusion, depression and eventually dementia.

There have been several retired football players who have come forward with brain diseases, many of whom attribute their condition to the game. 

More than 1,800 former athletes and military veterans have pledged to donate their brains to the Concussion Legacy Foundation for CTE research.

CTE was usually associated with boxing before former NFL players began revealing their conditions. 

Several notable players who committed suicide were posthumously diagnosed with the disease, such as Junior Seau and Aaron Hernandez. 

While often connected to concussions, many researchers like Lee E. Goldstein, MD, PhD, an associate professor at Boston University, now believe sub-concussive hits also play a major part in CTE. 

‘Over the course of an NFL season, the overwhelming majority of hits are sub-concussive,’ Goldstein told DailyMail.com. ‘I’m not saying [the NFL is] wrong for focusing on concussions. But I am saying they’re mis-prioritizing.’ 

‘But there were points in my career where I knew I was concussed, I knew I was dazed.

‘Towards the back end of my career, I would actually buy myself time on the ground and grab a shoulder or leg until my head was right to go, then get to my feet.

‘I knew if I got to my feet I’d stumble, which is definitely not the right way to be thinking.’

In 2022, an autopsy of the brain of NRL premiership coach and former player Paul Green, who took his own life, confirmed he had a severe case of CTE.

Lifeline 13 11 14; beyondblue 1300 22 4636 

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