On Monday, the NFL took one step closer to recovery. They have admitted they have a problem. Jeff Miller the NFL’s senior VP for health and safety was asked the question that anyone involved in football wanted to know the answer to. Most of us know the answer already, because we can see the results of what prolonged trauma to the head area has on professional boxers, and can do more than just speculating that the game of football would have similarities. The Senior VP of the National Football League’s health and safety department was asked if a link between football and neurodegenerative diseases like CTE have been established, and The VP’s answer was yes. He also stated that his answer of yes was based on the research done by Dr. Ann McKee, a Boston University Neuropathologist who had diagnosed 176 people with CTE, and 90 former NFL players out of 94. The health and Safety VP followed by stating that the broader point, and the one that many questions point to, and what it necessarily means is, where do we go from here with that information? VP Jeff Miller also noted that little is known about the prevalence of the disease or the risks of incurring it.
The National Football League had settled with thousands of former players in 2013 and agreed to pay more than $765 million to players that suffer from CTE, and to their families.
Yesterday’s admittance marked the first time that any senior NFL official had acknowledged that there are reasonable links between the sport, and chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative brain disease. Jeff Miller’s admittance of a link countered that of Dr. Mitch Berger, a member of the NFL’s Head, Neck and Spine Committee during Super Bowl week. Berger went on record saying that there was absolutely no link between degenerative brain disorders and football and that CTE could be found in all kinds of peoples’ brains who live many different walks of life. “There’s no question that you can find degenerative changes that are indicative of CTE in individuals who have played football” but he also stated that the protein that appears in a distinctive form in the brains that suffer from CTE is also found in many brains that have traumatic injuries IE: Car accidents, gunshot wounds, and domestic violence.
The NLF has, itself, has yet to comment on the issue, but the fact that their Health and Safety VP has acknowledged that there is a problem and that it was also noted on the NFL website, shows that this issue cannot hide any longer, and must be addressed quickly. The VP’s comments could affect the outcome of ongoing lawsuits brought out by hundreds of former NFL players. ESPN reports that a letter to the Third Court of Appeals, a representative of seven objecting players said that the league has turned against its previous stance and that the prior settlement did not take into account the dangers of CTE, properly.