NFL Admits Link between Football and Degenerative Brain Disease

This is from the Guadian – and is followed by my comments.

An NFL official has acknowledged a link between football and a degenerative brain disease for the first time.

Jeff Miller, the NFL’s senior vice president for health and safety, spoke about the connection during an appearance Monday at a congressional committee’s round table discussion about concussions.

Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-Illinois) asked Miller: “Do you think there is a link between football and degenerative brain disorders like CTE?”

Miller, who was referring to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), began by discussing the work of Boston University neuropathologist Dr Ann McKee, who has found CTE in the brains of 90 out of 94 former pro football players.

“Well, certainly, Dr McKee’s research shows that a number of retired NFL players were diagnosed with CTE, so the answer to that question is certainly ‘yes,’ but there are also a number of questions that come with that,” Miller said.

Schakowsky repeated the question: “Is there a link?”

“Yes. Sure,” Miller responded.

Will football as we now understand it continue?

hmlbr30I think that this kind of admission reflects a conclusion that the NFL has already reached, and that is, that the game cannot continue in its current form.

I believe right now they are busy looking at new ways the game can be played and at fairly immediate rule changes to limit the damage to players and the league’s bottom line.

They don’t have a choice. The evidence that repeated impacts are destroying the players brains is accumulating very quickly and looks very solid.

I am very impressed that they didn’t choose the tobacco defense of deny and stall or decide to fund some “climate denying” style web sites and organizations. Of course, that kind of thing would have only worked for a while and I suspect that stalling the inevitable when they have other and better choices such as re-designing the game struck them as painful and revenue threatening. They’d rather play ball and make money. That makes sense to me.

James Pilant