Former Pittsburgh Anchor Jon Burnett Diagnosed with Suspected CTE

By Kevin Eck 

Former KDKA anchor Jon Burnett has been diagnosed with suspected CTE, chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a progressive brain disease caused by repetitive blows to the head. It’s suspected because the only way to definitively diagnose CTE is with an autopsy of the brain.

Burnett retired five years ago at the age of 65. While at KDKA, he co-hosted Evening Magazine, Pittsburgh Today, did the weather and co-hosted Pittsburgh Today Live for 11 years.

Before Burnett was on TV, he played football in Knoxville, Tennessee starting at the age of 10.


“I played both ways in high school. I was a fullback and a defensive end,” Burnett told KDKA.

He went on to play at the University of Tennessee where he suffered two major concussions. During practice at the Gator Bowl he was hit so hard his helmet split.

He estimates he used his head to hit another player 30-40 times a game, adding up to hundreds of hits over a decade, which is one of the primary reasons Jon’s neurologist suspects CTE.

Burnett is part of research at the National Sports Brain Bank at the University of Pittsburgh, where scientists are studying CTE. The study involves an annual online questionnaire and agreeing to donate your brain upon death. The brain can be removed without any change to the rest of the body and can still allow for a traditional funeral and open casket.