Cedrick Hardman, the 49ers’ unofficial career sack leader who died at 70 on March 8, left instructions to have his brain donated for research into chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative brain condition.
Don West Jr., a former lawyer and sports agent who was a close friend of Hardman, said he assisted Hardman’s son, Clayton, and his daughter-in-law, Suzanne, in donating his brain to the Boston University’s Brain Bank. It is the world’s largest brain bank focused on CTE and traumatic brain injury.
In 2017, a Boston University study, published by the American Medical Association, examined the brains of deceased former football players and found that 110 of 111 brains of those who played in the NFL had CTE.
Hardman, who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in October 2017, did have memory issues that were believed to be tied to his chemotherapy. However, West, his friend of 17 years who lived near Hardman in Laguna Beach, said the change in his cognitive function began before he was diagnosed.
“He wasn’t dramatically impacted, but he felt there was some change in his functionality over the years,” West said. “He wasn’t sure if it was just getting older, or if had something to do with football. He felt it was serious enough that it should be figured out. To get to the bottom of it.”
Photo: Bettmann Archive / 1974
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Hardman spent the first 10 seasons of his 12-year NFL career with the 49ers before finishing with the Raiders.
Hardman unofficially had 112.5 career sacks with the 49ers from 1970-79, before sacks became an official statistic in 1982. Bryant Young (89.5 sacks) is recognized as the franchise’s official sack leader.
West initially announced Hardman’s decision to donate his brain via a press release from Sack Masters Inc., which recognizes members of the NFL’s 100-sack club. West, Hardman and the foundation of late Hall of Fame pass-rusher Deacon Jones, who coined the term “sack,” co-founded the organization.
According to statistics compiled by historian John Turney, there are 54 players in NFL history with 100 sacks. Per Turney’s research, Hardman is tied for 30th all-time with 121.5 sacks, 107 coming with the 49ers.
West, laughing, said Hardman was known to voice his displeasure about the NFL’s lack of sack statistics before 1982.
“He’d say, ‘According to the NFL, I don’t have no damn sacks,’” West said. “And that doesn’t make any sense.”
This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/49ers/article/Ex-49er-Hardman-asked-that-brain-be-donated-as-13701032.php.