In a first for the NFL, the professional league of this country’s most popular sport is acknowledging a link between football and brain disease. The league’s top health and safety officer conceded and confirmed the tie during a roundtable discussion on concussions convened by the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Energy and Commerce. The official was asked Jeff Miller if the link between football and neuro-degenerative diseases like C.T.E. has been established. He said, “the answer to that question is certainly yes.”
C.T.E. and the denial by the league is the subject of a recent film “Concussion” starring Will Smith as Dr. Bennet Omalu—the Nigerian forensic pathologist who discovered the disease while performing an autopsy on a 50-year-old former NFL football player, Mike Webster, while working at the Allegheny County Coroner’s Office in Pittsburgh. Webster was a beloved former Steeler whose life spiraled out of control as he showed a steep mental decline and suffered many ailments until he died from a heart attack. Omalu went on to discover C.T.E. in several other players including Terry Long and Andre Waters. Both of whom had tremendous on-field careers filled with violent helmet-to-helmet hits and football-related head trauma. He was dubbed by journalist Jeanne Marie Laskas (who wrote the article and book on which the film was based), as ‘The Doctor The NFL Tried To Silence’.
In addition to Omalu’s work, a Boston University neuropathologist has diagnosed C.T.E. in the brains of 176 people, including nearly 100 former NFL players. Among them a Hoosier connection—Indiana native Dave Duerson who played football as a kid growing up in Muncie, in college at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, and as a legendary member of the Chicago Bears. Duerson took his own life in February of 2011 leaving his brain in-tact for C.T.E. research. Post-mortem, C.T.E. was discovered in Duerson.
Miller’s admission is groundbreaking and has been applauded across social media as long overdue.
Actress, Mia Farrow:
USA Today sports columnist, Nancy Armour:
What’s next? Throngs of parents across the nation will continue to decide whether to allow their children to play football weighing the fear of brain injury and gains from playing organized sports. It must be noted that many pee wee sports leagues and school football teams are making changes to avoid concussions and other head injuries. For the NFL, the fight for compensation for affected players will continue to heat up regarding an appropriate settlement that players, former players and the player’s families want them to pay.
Read more about the NFL’s startling CTE admission HERE.
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