When longtime soap star and multi-Emmy winner David Canary died on November 15, 2016, the cause of death was said to be Alzheimer’s.
Now, his daughter, Kate Canary, wonders if her father — who was beloved by All My Children fans as Adam and Stuart Chandler — suffered from another brain disease affecting men who played football at high school level, college level, and the NFL.
Canary wrote of her suspicions and the latter years of her father’s life in a chilling and poignant op-ed that ran in The New York Daily News on January 6.
Before David Canary became a primetime star, musical star, and soap star, he played college football for the University of Cincinnati Bearcats, but went on to turn down a professional NFL offer from the Denver Broncos to pursue a performing career.
Still, he received several blows to the head during his college-playing years… the type researchers are now finding Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) in staggering numbers with former and current football players.
Kate Canary believes her father’s symptoms, which include mood swings, change in personality, and memory issues, were more consistent with CTE than with an Alzheimer’s diagnosis.
She describes her father as such in his later years:
“Those closest to Dad witnessed firsthand the erratic, delusional and at times explosive episodes that characterized his particular case, which we tried attributing to an overactive imagination in a broken brain,” Kate Canary wrote.
“But as more information emerges about CTE and the nature of its symptoms — the violent mood swings, the lapses in judgment, the hours-long hallucinations, the paranoid delusions — we are left with more questions than answers, more regret than relief.”
Kate Canary is grateful her father stopped playing football as early as he did, for perhaps his life would not have been so rich, but she can’t help wondering the damage did to him anyway.
“‘Did football kill my father?’ This question doesn’t just linger with time; it grows exponentially louder,” she wrote in The Daily News.
“What we have in anecdotal evidence, we lack in diagnostic proof. Instead, we join the chorus of voices convinced that America’s small-town savior is a devil in disguise.
“Dad needed no such savior. Show business would be his ticket out of Ohio, and to a life rich with happiness, until it eluded him.”