Ex-Notre Dame football player sadly at center of roadblocked safety push

The family of former Notre Dame football star Taylor Dever is pushing for more safety measures to be put into youth football.

Notre Dame football wide receiver Duval Kamara (18) celebrates with Taylor Dever and teammates
Notre Dame football wide receiver Duval Kamara (18) celebrates with Taylor Dever and teammates / Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports
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The family of former Notre Dame football star Taylor Dever knows better than almost anyone what the dangers of playing the sport can be. They know it because Dever is no longer around, even though he’d barely be 35-years-old if he was.

The former Irish lineman passed away in 2020 after an “accidental drug interaction” that his father, Tom Dever said was due to the young man just trying to find some relief from lingering pain stemming from his playing days.

Before his death, the ex-Irish star had bouts of odd and aggressive behavior, as well as depressive episodes that Tom and the rest of the family said were not normal. After his death they donated Taylor’s brain to the UNITE Brain Bank at the Boston University CTE Center. There is was determined that Taylor Dever suffered from Stage Two (there are four stages) CTE. 

In response to that diagnosis, the family has spent the last few years trying to shed light on the dangers of CTE - a condition blamed for several high-profile former NFL players committing suicide - and trying to get laws passed that would work to limit the damage. Unfortunately, so far they haven’t been able to make a ton of progress with the latest setback coming in the state of California.

Former Notre Dame football star at center of safety push

Assembly Bill 734 would have prohibited kids under 12 from playing tackle football. The point of this is that there’s quite a bit of research out there that says the earlier people start playing tackle football, the higher the risk for severe forms of CTE. 

However, at the end of January, Governor Gavin Newsom announced he’d veto the bill if it came to his desk. That effectively killed any chance for the legislation to pass. 

So now the parents of the former Notre Dame football player will have to go back to the drawing board. However, it looks like Tom understands this kind of setback isn’t the end of the road. In a recent OpEd he wrote for the Sacramento Bee, he clarified that they’d keep trying to push some safety measures forward. 

The Notre Dame football community has a better understanding of what CTE can do to someone because of what happened to Taylor Dever, and it might be time for that community to rally around the Dever family’s cause.