NFL Admits Football Linked to Brain Disease CTE


NFL Admits Football Linked to Brain Disease CTE

By Burt Carey

Facing a question by U.S. Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky during a discussion with the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce, a National Football League official admitted that football can be linked to a fatal brain disease.

football, degenerative brain disorders, CTE, NFL, head injuries,Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, House Energy and Commerce Committee, Dr. Ann McKee, legal concerns“Mr. Miller,” Rep. Schakowsky (D-IL) asked, “do you think there is a link between football and degenerative brain disorders like CTE?”

“The answer to that question is certainly yes,” said Jeff Miller, NFL senior vice president of health and safety policy. Officials later confirmed that Miller’s statement reflects the league’s opinion.

Whether the NFL’s admission that head injuries suffered on the field by football players are related to chronic traumatic encephalopathy is a game changer is no longer the question. Now it’s a matter of how much it changes the game.

“The NFL is peddling a false sense of security,” Schakowsky commented before asking Miller about football’s connection to CTE and brain disorders. “Football is a high-risk sport because of the routine hits, not just diagnosable concussions. What the American public need now is honesty about the health risks and clearly more research.”

The discussion hosted by House Energy and Commerce Committee members included comments from Dr. Ann McKee, who has studied the brains of former NFL and college football players from her position with the Boston University School of Medicine. She discovered CTE in the brains of 90 of 94 former NFL players, 45 of 55 college players and six of 26 high school football players who died. Until more advances are made, CTE can only be diagnosed posthumously.

“I don’t think this represents how common this disease is in the living population, but the fact that over five years I’ve been able to accumulate this number of cases in football players, it cannot be rare,” McKee told Schakowsky. “In fact, I think we are going to be surprised at how common it is.”

Miller’s comments are a departure from vague responses given to Congress by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in 2009, and more recently by Dr. Mitch Berger, a member of the NFL’s Head, Neck and Spine Committee, who said there was no connection between football and degenerative brain disorders just a few days before Super Bowl 50 in February. The difference now, league officials say, is that science has proven many of their worst fears.

“Well, certainly Dr. McKee’s research shows that a number of NFL players were diagnosed with CTE, so the answer to that question is yes,” Miller told the committee. “But there’s [sic] also a number of questions that come with that. I think the broader point, and the one that your question gets to, is what that necessarily means, and where do we go from here with that information.”

How this admission by Miller and the NFL affects legal concerns over liability is yet to be seen. A $765 million settlement reached during April 2015 over a class-action lawsuit involving more than 4,000 former NFLs players could come back into play. Hours after Miller’s comments were reported, an attorney representing seven former NFL players who opted out of the class-action suit fired off a letter to the U.S. Court of Appeals claiming Miller’s comments are opposed to the NFL’s declarations made to settle the case.

“The NFL’s comments further signal the NFL’s acceptance of Dr. McKee’s conclusions regarding CTE — a stark turn from its position before the district court, which relied on the NFL’s experts to dismiss the significance of the same research,” wrote Stephen F. Molo of Molo Lamken LLP. “The NFL’s testimony also directly contradicts its position in the case. For example, the NFL argued that ‘Researchers have not reliably determined which events make a person more likely to develop CTE.’ And it stated that ‘Speculation that repeated concussion or sub-concussive impacts cause CTE remains unproven.’”

Former NFL players diagnosed with CTE include members of the Hall of Fame. Ken Stabler, a quarterback who played in the NFL for three teams from 1970 to 1984, died in July 2015 from cancer at the age of 69. He was posthumously elected to the Hall of Fame in 2016. Just a week before that announcement was made, Boston University researchers announced that Stabler suffered from CTE.

The highest profile player diagnosed with CTE was Mike Webster, a lineman for the Pittsburgh Steelers and Kansas City Chiefs who was portrayed in the 2015 movie “Concussion,” starring Will Smith as noted pathologist Dr. Bennet Omalu. Webster retired in 1990 following a 17-year career in the NFL. Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1997, he died of a heart attack in 2002 at age 50.

Others include Junior Seau, a 2105 Hall of Fame inductee who committed suicide in May 2012, and Frank Gifford, a 1977 inductee who died of natural causes in August 2015 at age 84.

Source:  Baret News



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