Frank Gifford's family is opening up about the head trauma he most likely suffered as an NFL player.
The football legend died in August at 84 years old, and his family released a new statement on Wednesday about how Gifford's days as a professional athlete may have impacted his brain.
"After losing our beloved husband and father, Frank Gifford, we as a family made the difficult decision to have his brain studied in hopes of contributing to the advancement of medical research concerning the link between football and traumatic brain injury," the statement read. "While Frank passed away from natural causes this past August at the age of 84, our suspicions that he was suffering from the debilitating effects of head trauma were confirmed when a team of pathologists recently diagnosed his condition as that of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE)—a progressive degenerative brain disease.
"We decided to disclose our loved one’s condition to honor Frank’s legacy of promoting player safety dating back to his involvement in the formation of the NFL Players Association in the 1950s," the statement continued. "His entire adult life Frank was a champion for others, but especially for those without the means or platform to have their voices heard."
"We miss him every day, now more than ever," the family reveals, "but find comfort in knowing that by disclosing his condition we might contribute positively to the ongoing conversation that needs to be had."
Additionally, the family maintains that they "will continue to support the National Football League and its recent on-field rule changes and procedures to make the game Frank loved so dearly—and the players he advocated so tirelessly for—as safe as possible."
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell issued a statement to ET on Wednesday in response to the Gifford family. "We appreciate the Gifford family's desire to help the medical community understand more about CTE, and we are grateful for their support of the league's efforts to improve safety in our game," he said. "At the NFL, we are supporting grants to NIH and Boston University as well as other independent efforts to research the effects of repetitive head trauma."
"But we are not waiting until science provides all of the answers. We are working now to improve the safety of our game," Goodell's statement continued. "The NFL has made numerous rules changes to the game, all to enhance player health and safety at all levels of football."
Kathie Lee Gifford and her late husband were both inducted into the Broadcast and Cable Hall of Fame in October, and the Today co-host got choked up while remembering his legacy.
"I am truly the most blessed woman on the Earth. I had 29 years with my incredible husband," the 62-year-old said.
Gifford's daughter, Cassidy, posted a moving tribute to her father in August, writing, "Yesterday, I lost my best friend... His kindness was infectious, and his grace, beyond compare.. And despite the worldly passing of an incredible man, I undoubtedly know heaven gained one stud of an angel."