"Did football kill my father?" -- New questions surround the passing of AMC's David Canary

Posted Friday, January 18, 2019 8:27:31 AM
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When iconic All My Children star David Canary (ex-Stuart and Adam Chandler) died in 2015, the cause of death was thought to be Alzheimer's. But his daughter Kate now believes football was to blame.

The daytime world was rocked when longtime, multi-Emmy-winning All My Children star David Canary (ex-Adam and Stuart Chandler) died in 2015. At the time of his passing, his family believed Alzheimer's disease to be the cause. But in a New York Daily News piece published this month, his daughter Kate Canary wonders whether or not the original diagnosis given over three years ago was wrong.

In the chilling and emotional op-ed, Canary writes that she now believes her father passed away from a different brain disease called chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), which affects men who have played football at high school, college, and NFL levels.

As Soap Central reported at the time of Canary's death, the iconic actor was a standout football player in his youth. He played high school ball for the famed Massillon Tigers of Washington High School and earned a varsity football scholarship to the University of Cincinnati, from which he graduated with a major in music. However, in a somewhat surprising move that few athletes can likely imagine, Canary turned down an offer to play professional football with the then-newly formed Denver Broncos and instead headed to New York City to pursue his passion for acting.

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Before he bowed out from football, however, he received several blows to the head during his college-playing years -- the type researchers are now finding can cause chronic traumatic encephalopathy. And Kate Canary believes the symptoms her father experienced prior to his death -- including mood swings, changes in personality, and memory issues -- sound more consistent with CTE than with an Alzheimer's diagnosis.

"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," she reveals in the piece. "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."

Canary shares that the unanswered questions have consumed her and her father's family, who now believe serious thought should go into whether or not football is indeed one of America's greatest sports and pastimes.

"Did football kill my father?' This question doesn't just linger with time; it grows exponentially louder," she writes. "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."

Canary's entry into television included a two-part episode of Gunsmoke followed by a seven-year role as Candy Canaday on Bonanza. In 1983, the Indiana native joined the cast of ABC's All My Children, creating the roles of the ruthless businessman Adam Chandler and his kinder, gentler twin brother Stuart Chandler. Canary's work on the drama series earned him an incredible 16 Daytime Emmy nominations and five Outstanding Lead Actor trophies. He retired from full-time acting in 2010.

For Kate Canary's full op-ed piece about her father's death, visit the New York Daily News. For more information on chronic traumatic encephalopathy, click here.

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