Ex-Buccaneers president, player safety advocate Gay Culverhouse dies at 73

Ryan Young
·Writer
Celebrating Kobe Bryant, Don Shula and all of the sports figures we've lost in 2020.
Celebrating Kobe Bryant, Don Shula and all of the sports figures we've lost in 2020.

Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers president and senior executive Gay Culverhouse died on Wednesday after complications with myelofibrosis, according to The New York Times.

She was 73.

Culverhouse, the daughter of the team’s first owner Hugh Culverhouse, served as an executive and the organization’s president from 1986-94. She later worked to advocate for retired players who were dealing with health issues, including chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). 

Culverhouse had battled myelofibrosis, a form of chronic leukemia, since 2003. She was told in 2009 that she only had six months to live, per The New York Times

"We are saddened to hear of the passing of Gay Culverhouse earlier this week," Buccaneers owner and co-chairman Bryan Glazer said in a statement, via ESPN. "During her family's ownership of the Buccaneers, Gay was a leading figure in and around the Tampa Bay community who was defined by her compassion for helping others. Her tireless work as an advocate for retired NFL players is also an important part of her personal legacy. We send our heartfelt condolences to her children, Leigh and Chris, and the entire Culverhouse family."

Culverhouse worked as a professor at the University of South Florida College of Medicine before joining the Buccaneers, and had earned her doctorate from Columbia University. 

She testified before a House Judiciary hearing on head injuries among NFL players 15 years after leaving the team in 2009, too, calling for mandatory benching of players who had suffered from concussions and for independent neurologists to be evaluating players on the field, per ESPN. The NFL implemented these policies in 2013.

"One of the things you, as a committee, need to understand very clearly is the fact that the team doctor is hired by the coach and paid by the front office," Culverhouse testified, via ESPN. "This team doctor is not a medical advocate for the players. This team doctor's role is to get that player back on the field, even if that means injecting the player on the field."

"My men have headaches that never stop. They cannot remember where they are going or what they want to say without writing it down. Some are on government welfare. Some are addicted to pain medication. Some are dead."

Tampa Bay Buccaneers former President Gay Culverhouse, right, testifies before the House Judiciary Committee about football brain injuries along with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, left, and NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith on Capitol Hill October 28, 2009 in Washington, DC. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers former President Gay Culverhouse, right, testifies before the House Judiciary Committee about football brain injuries along with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, left, and NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith on Capitol Hill October 28, 2009 in Washington, DC. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

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