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The NFL (Finally) Admits A Link Between Football And Degenerative Brain Disease

National Football League logo This week, the National Football League (NFL) admitted a link between football and degenerative brain disease. Frontline reported:

"After years of skepticism, professed doubts and at times outright denial, the NFL has acknowledged a link between playing football and the degenerative brain disease known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy. The acknowledgment came one day after Jeff Miller, the NFL’s senior vice president for health and safety, told the House of Representatives’ Committee on Energy and Commerce, that football-related head trauma can lead to brain disease."

It's important to remember how we got this admission. The problem has been brewing for a long time:

"Miller’s admission broke with the NFL’s past stances on the issue. In a series of scientific papers published between 2003 and 2009, members of the league’s since disbanded “Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Committee” wrote that “no NFL player” had ever suffered chronic brain damage as a result of repeat concussions... As recently as Super Bowl week, Dr. Mitch Berger, the neurosurgeon who leads the NFL’s subcommittee on long-term brain injury, said there was still no direct link between football and CTE."


I've watched the sport most of my life. In 2013, I wrote an open letter to the NFL detailing my dissatisfaction with the league's progress, or lack thereof, with addressing head injuries. Back then, the league had just settled a lawsuit with former players... a woefully inadequate settlement, given a $9 billion per year business built by former players -- many of whom suffer with CTE. Disgusting. So I stopped watching NFL games... all of them... even when my favorite team won Super Bowl XLIX.

This week's admission was long overdue. The league still has a lot to do to earn back my trust and support. A lot.

What next will the NFL do -- not say -- to help former players? What next to better protect players? What next to present the science to youth (before high school) so they can make informed choices? Hopefully, the league will move with more speed that it did during the last 20 years.


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