Bennet Omalu, an expert on the destructive brain condition, said that he "would bet one month's salary that (Belcher) had CTE" and that the local medical examiner should have performed a test for it.
CTE is a progressive disease linked to multiple concussions. It has made headlines in recent years with the deaths of some former professional athletes, and lawsuits filed against the NFL by others worried about the still unclear toll of a sport that can bring repeated blows to the head. Symptoms include memory problems, behavior changes including aggression, and eventually dementia.
Dan Ferguson, a spokesman for Jackson County, stressed the medical examiner's job is to determine cause of death and that removal of an organ or tissue strictly for research isn't allowed.
Belcher's brain also could have been donated for research, but Vandever said Belcher's family wasn't contacted about such a donation.
The fact that it's been a year since Belcher died could complicate the exam. But Omalu said important scientific findings remain possible, noting that he has found clear evidence of Alzheimer's and other brain diseases during autopsies performed on bodies buried longer than Belcher's.
Around the league
Lions • Detroit rookie defensive end Ezekiel "Ziggy" Ansah and running back Reggie Bush are listed as questionable on the injury report for Monday night's game against Baltimore. Bush missed last week's game at Philadelphia with an injured right calf. Ansah, a former BYU star, has an injured shoulder. Also, the Lions have listed cornerback Chris Houston as doubtful because of a toe injury.
Chiefs • Kansas City receiver Dexter McCluster has been ruled out for Sunday's game in Oakland after developing an infection in a small cut on his ankle.
The Chiefs were wary that McCluster may have developed Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), but trainer Rick Burkholder said tests came back negative for the serious strain of staph infection. McCluster has been receiving antibiotics to treat the infection.
McCluster, who's returned two punts for touchdowns this season, had been listed as questionable for the Raiders. A team spokesman said Saturday he will not make the trip.
He sustained the cut last week in the mud and snow at Washington.
The Chiefs had already ruled out left tackle Branden Albert with a hyperextended knee, tight end Anthony Fasano with a concussion and linebacker Justin Houston with a dislocated elbow.
Washington • Rookie tight end Jordan Reed will miss his fourth consecutive game because of lingering effects from a concussion.
The Redskins announced Saturday that Reed did not travel with team for Sunday's game against the Atlanta Falcons.
Reed is the team's second leading receiver with 45 catches for 499 yards.
He was injured in Nov. 17 in a loss to Philadelphia.
Jaguars • Jacksonville has added guard Will Rackley to the injury report with a concussion. Rackley, who has started 11 of 13 games this season, reported symptoms Saturday morning. He is listed as questionable for Sunday's game against Buffalo. Rackley first suffered a concussion Oct. 27 against San Francisco in London and missed the next two games. He started the last three all wins.
Colts • Indianapolis promoted receiver Griff Whalen from the practice squad to the active roster Saturday.
Whalen has played in six games this season and has nine receptions for 102 yards. He should help a depleted receiving corps that has been without perennial Pro Bowler Reggie Wayne since Oct. 20. Backup receiver LaVon Brazill is questionable this week with a foot injury.
Whalen played with Andrew Luck at Stanford and originally signed with Indy (8-5) as an undrafted rookie. He spent last year on injured reserve. This year, he has bounced between active and inactive and from the practice squad to the active roster.
To make room for Whalen, the Colts waived backup cornerback Jalil Brown.
Indianapolis, the AFC South champs, host Houston (2-11) on Sunday.