Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is considered to be a progressive neurodegenerative disease caused by mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI). Recently there has been a significant amount of media attention surrounding the commonness of CTE in professional athletes, particularly American football, based on several postmortem case series. However, despite the persuasive claims made by the media about CTE, research on the disease and the effects of mTBI in general remain in its infancy. Commonly cited case series studying CTE are limited by methodological biases, pathological inconsistencies, insufficient clinical data, and a reliance on inherently biased postmortem data. These case series do not allow for the collection of any epidemiological data and are not representative of the general population. The exaggerated assumptions and assertions taken from these studies run the risk of creating a self-fulfilling prophecy for individuals who believe they are at risk and have the potential to negatively influence sports-related policymaking. This review outlines the status and limitations of recent CTE case series and calls for future prospective, longitudinal studies to further characterize the pathological and clinical hallmarks of CTE.
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