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League study finds link between football and dementia

The recent GQ article containing eye-opening information regarding the presence of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy in the brains former NFL players Mike Webster, Andre Waters, and others generally portrayed the NFL as an organization not interested in getting to the truth regarding the consequences of repeated blows to the brain box.

That perception has been somewhat undermined by the fact that a study commissioned by the NFL concluded that Alzheimer’s disease and similar memory-related diseases have been found in the league’s former players at a much higher rate than in the normal population.

“This is a game-changer — the whole debate, the ball’s now in the [NFL's] court,” Dr. Julian Bailes told the New York Times.  (Dr. Bailes was recently interviewed by NBC/PFT’s Tom Curran regarding CTE research.)  “They always say, ‘We’re going to do our own studies.’  And now they have.”

That said, we hope that this hasn’t become one of those red state-blue state issues in which the camps already are entrenched and each new piece of objective data becomes not an opportunity for enlightenment but an occasion for spin.

Consider, for example, the league’s reaction to the news.

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told the Times that the study did not formally diagnose dementia, that it was subject to the shortcomings of telephone surveys, that “there are thousands of retired players who do not have memory problems,” and that “[m]emory disorders affect many people who never played football or other sports.”

That’s fine, but if the study had found no increased rate of dementia among NFL players, we don’t think Greg would be pointing out that the study is subject to the shortcomings of telephone surveys.

Bottom line?  It’s no surprise that getting hit in the head hard and repeatedly might cause long-term damage, regardless of whether the sport is football, hockey, wrestling, or twilight jai alai.  The challenge is to objectively determine the extent of the risks and to come up with ways to minimize them.

Hopefully, the league will embrace that challenge, regardless of where it leads.

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42 Responses to “League study finds link between football and dementia”
  1. Bigbluefan says: Sep 29, 2009 10:27 PM

    Living Proof
    Jerry Jones
    The fool that owns the deadskins
    Wasted Wade P
    and let us not for got the father of all brain damage
    Buddy Ryan and his off spring

  2. HawgNSonsTV says: Sep 29, 2009 10:28 PM

    Florio…is that your excuse?

  3. ItalianArmyGuy says: Sep 29, 2009 10:30 PM

    That’s nothing compared to the study that found a nearly 100% link between reading PFT.com and dementia

  4. hrmlss says: Sep 29, 2009 10:32 PM

    My god!!!! this explains Brett Favre’s problem!!!!!

  5. bearsrule says: Sep 29, 2009 10:35 PM

    In other controversial news, gravy has been found to raise cholesterol levels.

  6. penguininbondage says: Sep 29, 2009 10:36 PM

    What? You think Emmett got stupid on his own?

  7. KC Hymen Bruiser says: Sep 29, 2009 10:39 PM

    Being hit in the head doesn’t have any ill effects on former players once they retire. Just ask all of Herschel Walkers alter egos. They all agree.

  8. teke184 says: Sep 29, 2009 10:41 PM

    Have they found a link between dementia and working in the front-office of Detroit or Oakland yet?

  9. RoaringFork78 says: Sep 29, 2009 10:42 PM

    Were John Madden and Pat Summerall’s broadcasting a part of this study?

  10. Philtration says: Sep 29, 2009 10:46 PM

    Does this even begin to explain Al Davis?

  11. roe says: Sep 29, 2009 10:50 PM

    “League study finds link between football and dementia”
    I’m crazy for football, does that count?

  12. DanSnyder says: Sep 29, 2009 10:51 PM

    Nothing new, all contact sports increase risk of brain related problems when you get hit in the head. It’s part of the job. Athletes who take in enormous amounts of calories and run their maximum like runners or swimmers etc etc have their own hazards too. They too are subject to problems just different kinds. The truth is almost everything we do is essentially killing us slowly over time. Anytime you are hit in the head, even if someone lightly smacks your head with their hand and regardless of pain it kills brain cells. Larger blows lead to more severe damage and EVERYTHING we do that happens to us, no matter that we do heal we are never 100% the way we were before the injury. Everything is cumulative.

  13. VoxUcker says: Sep 29, 2009 10:57 PM

    Don’t be so hard on Vox.
    He’s not really stupid, he’s just possessed by a retarded ghost.

  14. Anrkist says: Sep 29, 2009 11:01 PM

    Multiple concussions to the head is a good thing, why does no one understand this simple fact?
    There is, however, nothing anyone can do about it. This is the NFL… your paid to get hurt. That’s why people are watching. The sad thing is, no one is watching you when your 60 and can’t drink a glass of water without drooling.
    You want to see the ultimate NFL player? Take a look at Muhammed Ali… that’s what happens when you have to many hits to the head. There’s no science needed here, it an obvious observation.

  15. doric44 says: Sep 29, 2009 11:05 PM

    they must have used dick jauron as one of the test subjects he defiantly has dementia

  16. iclightpounder says: Sep 29, 2009 11:05 PM

    What explains me liking canned cheese and living in the armpit of of Ohio and West Virginia?
    It may be the trailer parks, the meth labs and the abundance of good lookin’ cousins.
    Go Steelers…One more for the scrotum!

  17. Fart Face Killa says: Sep 29, 2009 11:12 PM

    Wow! So you’re telling me that getting hit in the head and having your brain bang against the side of your skull can cause damage to your mental health??? Who woulda thought!
    BREAKING NEWS:
    When a man has sex with a woman, it can result in a child!

  18. florio's_mom says: Sep 29, 2009 11:15 PM

    They also found a link between Football reporters and mental retardation.

  19. rolltide says: Sep 29, 2009 11:29 PM

    “the NFL as an organization not interested in getting to the truth regarding the consequences of repeated blows to the brain box.”
    Yeah, expose this horrible practice to the light, Edward R. Florio. Why, the NFL thinks it can just pay these players off by giving them millions of dollars! HAVE THEY NO DECENCY?

  20. VoxVeritas says: Sep 29, 2009 11:30 PM

    “When a man has sex with a woman, it can result in a child!”
    Unless you’re an Eagirls fan, then you really need to check the milkman’s DNA.

  21. leatherneck says: Sep 29, 2009 11:34 PM

    A radical new helmet design is called for. It should have a soft shell with a faceguard on it to protect the jaw and teeth. The faceguard could resemble those of today, or it could be clear plastic like on hockey masks.
    A soft shell helmet would lead to players taking smarter risks on the field. This would reduce head trauma in the game, I believe.
    By the way, when is hockey going to commission a study of a possible link between head injury and the game of hockey?

  22. JoeSixPack says: Sep 29, 2009 11:38 PM

    But this still doesn’t explain why Randy Lerner hired that train wreck of a coach MangIdiot.

  23. Debacled says: Sep 29, 2009 11:38 PM

    @ penguininbondage says: September 29, 2009 10:36 PM
    “What? You think Emmett got stupid on his own?”
    You called?

  24. HarrisonHits says: Sep 29, 2009 11:47 PM

    “Have they found a link between dementia and working in the front-office of Detroit or Oakland yet?”
    I thought it was a requirement that you had to have dementia in order to be nuts enough to take a job with either of those franchises.

  25. WashingtonRedstorms says: Sep 29, 2009 11:50 PM

    Just ask Al Davis

  26. 10mm says: Sep 29, 2009 11:56 PM

    I know that all eagle fans have dementia
    godallascowboys!!!!!

  27. ItalianArmyGuy says: Sep 30, 2009 12:05 AM

    VoxVeritas says: September 29, 2009 11:30 PM
    “When a man has sex with a woman, it can result in a child!”
    Unless you’re an Eagirls fan, then you really need to check the milkman’s DNA.
    ============
    Hey Vox – 44-6. Those Eagirls fans will never let you live that one down. Even if they don’t know who their pappy’s are

  28. Fart Face Killa says: Sep 30, 2009 12:16 AM

    “Unless you’re an Eagirls fan, then you really need to check the milkman’s DNA.”
    But that milkman is still a man is it not??? So that statment is pretty dumb and unfunny….
    BTW… I’m not an Eagles fan, and I dislike nearly every one of their fans… but c’mon man, I expect better “comedy” from you!

  29. timegambit says: Sep 30, 2009 12:39 AM

    Does this mean Conan O’Brien is going to get worse!?

  30. VoxVeritas says: Sep 30, 2009 12:52 AM

    You know that rule that says that you can’t hit a QB in the knees? They used to call that the “Andre Waters Rule”. You know, like the “Michael Irvin Rule”, the “Deion Sanders Rule”, the “Erik Williams Rule”, the “Emmitt Smith Rule”. Only nobody knew who the hell Andre Waters was. Sort of like how the rule against calling out the offense’s cadence used to be named after Jerome Brown. Nobody knew who he was, either.
    But that Reggie White Rule… well everybody knows who Reggie White was, may God rest his soul. His rule is now called “Free Agency” because he worked so hard to break the chains that bound him to a loser franchise that never showed him any respect.

  31. Abe Froeman says: Sep 30, 2009 2:44 AM

    The prior decisions of the NFL constitute negligence.
    If they fail to act on current and concrete data they should be prosecuted.
    The past legends of football should be provided for by the billions the NFL rakes in.
    Denying them decency at the end of their lives because of the desire for profit sickens me.
    Truly, it sickens me.
    Please, don’t stop hounding on the NFL until they do what is right.
    No one is asking them to do anything more than what is merely right.

  32. shannscott2000 says: Sep 30, 2009 7:02 AM

    A radical new helmet design is called for. It should have a soft shell with a faceguard on it to protect the jaw and teeth. The faceguard could resemble those of today, or it could be clear plastic like on hockey masks.
    A soft shell helmet would lead to players taking smarter risks on the field. This would reduce head trauma in the game, I believe.

    Leatherneck,
    Do you think Tim Tebow would even be alive if he was wearing this? Or how about when Mike Alsott fell head first into Joe Jurevicous’s knee? You could have a foot of padding and it wouldn’t prevent a concussion, and most on-field accidents that I’ve seen are the result of just that, “accidents” that are hard to avoid. It’s a risky game. That’s why they get paid so much.

  33. EdgarSnyder says: Sep 30, 2009 7:33 AM

    wait, what were we talking about, filters?

  34. Big Stretch says: Sep 30, 2009 8:51 AM

    Wow,,,,, hard to believe getting your head smashed in for a living is damaging.
    Million dollar contracts are essentially hazard pay. Ever person to ever step on a football field Pro or otherwise is aware of the risks involved in playing the game. The only way to avoid head injuries all together would be to make the players wear a belt with velcro flags handing of the sides. Of course judging by the way the game is going we may see that in the next 5 years.

  35. thecrow025 says: Sep 30, 2009 9:04 AM

    This is a unflattering study for the NFL, but Aiello does bring up a valid point in saying that study was done via telephone interview. First, from all of the information presented this is a correlational study. The first rule of a correlational study is that you cannot prove causation (cause/effect) through it. The main reason is the researchers have zero control over extraneous factors that could very well have impact on whether or not someone develops dementia. For example, we know that drinking alcohol is/used to be a major part of the NFL culture. Could drinking large amounts of alcohol contribute to the development of dementia? Did this study control for that? What about steroids role? Listen, I’m not defending the NFL at all for their lack of support of retired NFL players. Frankly it makes me sick. But this study that has come out has opened up a whole new can of questions

  36. PackerHaiku says: Sep 30, 2009 9:40 AM

    Brett Favre dimentia?
    Maybe that explains comebacks
    Too many head blows?
    http://FavreHaiku.com

  37. VoxVeritas says: Sep 30, 2009 10:20 AM

    “But that milkman is still a man is it not???”
    Yes. The implication is that Eagirls fans THINK that they’re men that are capable of impregnating a woman, but they’re really not so it must be the milkman. I don’t hold it against you that you didn’t connect those dots. It was late. For me, not necessarily for you.
    “I expect better “comedy” from you!”
    Me too, but even Hank Aaron couldn’t hit every one out of the park.

  38. VoxVeritas says: Sep 30, 2009 10:25 AM

    Bearing in mind how the NFL treats it’s fallen warriors after they’ve given up so much, can anybody really blame the players that hold out for as much money as they can get? The average NFL career is probably still around 2-3 seasons and the ones that stick around longer are virtually guaranteed to have problems later in life, IMO. Especially the big guys up front that make everybody else look good.

  39. VoxVeritas says: Sep 30, 2009 11:10 AM

    “I wish I was smart”
    I’m smart enough to get my own fan club at PFT.
    You’re not smart enough to come up with an original name.
    You’re obviously a lowbrow Eagirls fan and can’t help it.

  40. Resolution says: Sep 30, 2009 11:49 AM

    Where is CAPTAIN OBVIOUS, and why is he not weighing in on this.

  41. FumbleNuts says: Sep 30, 2009 12:48 PM

    Maybe they should line the entire inside of the football helmet with Indestructible water balloons?

  42. tom coughlin's coat holder says: Sep 30, 2009 3:12 PM

    crow…great observations.
    what really gets me is the fact that the nfl thinks that they can fix this with a five cent washer.

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