Vincent Jackson
Vincent Jackson

Former San Diego Chargers star Vincent Jackson died of chronic alcohol use, according to an autopsy released Wednesday — 10 months after his body was found in a Florida hotel room.

In fact, says the Hillsborough County medical examiner, officials of the Homewood Suites in Brandon, near Tampa, apparently didn’t realize he was dead after checking on him twice.

Hillsborough County medical examiner’s report on Vincent Jackson autopsy.

Jackson, 38, was last known alive on Feb. 11, says a summary of the autopsy obtained by Times of San Diego.

“On the dates of 02/13 and 02/14, hotel staff entered the secured hotel room and located the [decedent] seated on the couch, slouched over,” the summary says. “They assumed he was sleeping and left the room.”

It wasn’t until the morning of Feb. 15 that hotel staff, “concerned when they found the decedent in the same position,” called 911.

Sheriff’s and other authorities responded to scene and confirmed Jackson’s death.

“A small laceration on the [decedent’s] left great toe was noted with no other visible signs of injury,” they noted.

Jackson had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.28% says the autopsy signed by Dina Swanson, assistant chief forensic toxicologist. His death was deemed “natural.”

Dr. Carolina McEnnan, deputy chief medical examiner, made the determination of cause of death.

ESPN noted that Jackson was arrested twice on suspicion of DUI (2006, 2009) during his Chargers tenure and was suspended for the first three games of the 2010 season.

Last week, Jackson’s family announced that he has been diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, the same disease found in former Chargers linebacker Junior Seau, who committed suicide at age 43 in 2012.

Ann McKee of Boston University’s CTE Center led the examination of Jackson’s brain, and called the athlete “a brilliant, disciplined, gentle giant whose life began to change in his mid-30s.”.

She said: “He became depressed, with progressive memory loss, problem solving difficulties, paranoia, and eventually extreme social isolation.

“What is surprising is that so many football players have died with CTE and so little is being done to make football, at all levels, safer by limiting the number of repetitive subconcussive hits.”

Jackson’s autopsy also revealed:

  • Alcoholic cardiomyopathy
  • Hepatic steatosis and fibrosis
  • Esophageal varices
  • Jaundice
  • Remote pancreatitis
  • Renal failure and hyponatremic dehydration
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • And mild arteriolosclerosis

Jackson played for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the final five seasons of his NFL career, after seven seasons with the Chargers.

“My heart aches for the many loved ones Vincent Jackson leaves behind, from his wife and children to the Buccaneers nation that adored him,” Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister tweeted at the time. “Mr. Jackson was a devoted man who put his family and community above everything else.”

Sheriff’s officials said Jackson, who lived in South Tampa, checked into the hotel Jan. 11.

The Chargers drafted Jackson out of Northern Colorado in the second round of the 2005 NFL draft. He was selected to the Pro Bowl in 2009 and 2011, and posted more than 1,000 yards receiving for San Diego in 2008, 2009 and 2011.

He signed with the Buccaneers prior to the 2012 season and continued his success in Florida, posting 1,384, 1,224 and 1,002 yards receiving in his first three season with the team. He officially retired in 2018.