NFL Official Acknowledges Link Between Football and Brain Damage
A top health and safety officer with the NFL has now openly acknowledged a link between football and the brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy or CTE, which has affected a number of former NFL stars. According to an ESPN report, Jeff Miller, the league’s senior vice president for health and safety spoke on the contentious topic at a congressional committee’s roundtable discussion about concussions. Miller acknowledged Boston University’s body of work in this area where researchers found CTE in the brains of 90 former football players and said there certainly is a connection. So far, the NFL has not linked playing football to CTE, a brain disease connected with repeated brain trauma. CTE is associated with symptoms such as memory loss, depression and progressive dementia. This disease, however, can be detected only after death. NFL released a statement confirming that Miller’s comments “accurately reflect” the NFL’s view.
A Game Changer?
Critics of the NFL’s proposed $1 billion plan to settle concussion claims called Miller’s sudden admission “a game changer.” This settlement is being appealed by players concerned that it does not include future cases of CTE, which they consider inevitable. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and other league representatives have for years circumvented the question of whether playing football and CTE are linked. They have consistently maintained that they would let the medical community make that determination. As recently as Super Bowl week, Dr. Mitch Berger, who leads the NFL subcommittee on long-term brain injury maintained that there is still no established link between football and CTE. Implications for the Future
This is indeed an earth-shattering admission from a top NFL health official. This raises a number of questions for the future. How does the NFL propose to protect its current and future stars? How will the league compensate former stars and their families for the injuries and losses they have suffered in terms of health and quality of life? Will the NFL revise its settlement or the terms of its settlement? What would be done at the high school level to prevent young athletes from suffering life-changing brain injuries?
The future of football rests on the answers to these and many more questions. The link between football and CTE has been scientifically proven and the NFL seems to have accepted the scientific community’s determination. What’s next? That remains to be seen.