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NFL estimates nearly three in 10 former players will have cognitive problems

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When it comes to concussions, the NFL has come a long way from the days of lies and half-truths regarding concussions.  (Maybe the NFL eventually will make that same progress when it comes to botched investigations of player misconduct.)

After years of downplaying and denying the long-term risks of concussion, the NFL is fully awake.  The process began five years ago next month, but it’s taken some time for the league to embrace completely the idea that it’s not good for the brain when the skull repeatedly hits other things hard.  Via the Associated Press, the league has acknowledged in connection with the settlement of the concussion litigation that nearly three in 10 former players eventually will suffer from Alzheimer’s disease or moderate dementia.

The disclosures made by the NFL came as part of the formal settlement approval process.  The NFL acknowledged that the rates of Alzheimer’s disease and moderate cognitive impairment are “materially higher than those expected in the general population” and would arise at “notably younger ages.”

The league also pointed out that the estimates are “reasonable and conservative,” with a deliberate effort to “overstat[e]the number of players who will develop [illnesses],” so that the fund available for retired players with qualifying illnesses will have enough money to cover them all.  Even so, the numbers are attracting plenty of attention.

“This statement clears up all the confusion and doubt manufactured over the years questioning the link between brain trauma and long-term neurological impairment,” former NFL player and long-time advocate for concussion awareness Chris Nowinski told the New York Times.  “We have come a long way since the days of outright denial.  The number of former players predicted to develop dementia is staggering, and that total does not even include former players who develop mood and behavior disorders and die prior to developing the cognitive symptoms associated with [chronic traumatic encephelopathy].”

Even if former players had fully known the risks during their careers, most would have still played.  Today, with full knowledge of the risks of long-term health problems available, football players still clamor to play in the NFL.

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37 Responses to “NFL estimates nearly three in 10 former players will have cognitive problems”
  1. gbsoccer6 says: Sep 13, 2014 10:33 PM

    Actually kids and teenagers are not clamoring to play football. Reasons being they don’t want to have mental and physical damage by the age of 40

  2. bonnovi says: Sep 13, 2014 10:33 PM

    How does that compare to the general public, out of curiosity?

  3. urfinished says: Sep 13, 2014 10:34 PM

    Ummmmmmmm…not good

  4. patsbrat says: Sep 13, 2014 10:36 PM

    Nice to see the league getting some credit for the progress they have made. I hope that players like Welker take this message to heart.

  5. bonnovi says: Sep 13, 2014 10:36 PM

    What does “materially higher than those expected in the general population” mean?

  6. shackdelrio says: Sep 13, 2014 10:38 PM

    Football is the new smoking

  7. nomoreseasontix says: Sep 13, 2014 10:40 PM

    It doesn’t help that they weren’t the sharpest tools in the first place….

  8. The Steelers are Marching. 7 rings. SFL 2015: restoring the game we created. says: Sep 13, 2014 10:44 PM

    Notice how Steelers aren’t having these problems? We’re just build differently. The rest of you are awfully soft.

  9. eljefedelmundo says: Sep 13, 2014 10:45 PM

    Meanwhile 1 out of 1 current Nfl Commissioners suffer cognitive impairment.

  10. brokebackbrees says: Sep 13, 2014 10:46 PM

    Gotta keep pounding the bash the NFL drum! Did you run out of Peterson/Rice stories? Maybe we can get a flashback how the NFL should have handled the Bill Romanowski situations back in the day?

  11. idolized1 says: Sep 13, 2014 10:46 PM

    That’s not really even that bad considering this last week alone has shown us that about 5 out of every 10 current players already do…

  12. lawson1974 says: Sep 13, 2014 10:49 PM

    Its about 2 in 10 in the general population.

    That difference is probably worth the chance to make life changing money.

  13. nyyjetsknicks says: Sep 13, 2014 10:50 PM

    Scary stuff. I would like to see a break down of data over the years. Are 3 and 10 players from the 60’s having these issues and 3 and 10 players from the 90’s having the same issues?

  14. seatownballers says: Sep 13, 2014 10:51 PM

    And another three out of ten will be charged with domestic abuse. Sadly

  15. Ferdinand says: Sep 13, 2014 10:56 PM

    The NFL is saying 3 in 10, so, the actual number is closer to 5 in ten, then.

  16. palatypus says: Sep 13, 2014 10:57 PM

    What’s the Commissioner’s excuse?

  17. patriotwayrules says: Sep 13, 2014 10:57 PM

    That’s what they make the BIG MONEY for.

  18. doctorrustbelt says: Sep 13, 2014 10:58 PM

    LET’S KEEP IT REAL: Football related brain injuries, criminal activity (murder/assault/drugs) by NFL players, parental fear of child injuries/impairment, and the rapidly growing Hispanic minority will result in the United States becoming soccer nation

    I know there is a bunch of you who don’t want to hear the truth… but… don’t be blind to it.

    I am a huge fan of the NFL (year round fan/poster)… but… soccer will be huge in the late-2020’s.

    ONE MORE THING: Name me one Hispanic NFL head coaches not named Fears, Flores, and Rivera

  19. brufer2 says: Sep 13, 2014 11:00 PM

    This means that when you see offense lined up against defense, six or seven of the players are likely to suffer cognitive impairment. Who is sicker: the players who so foolishly risk their health, or the fans who find grown men destroying their physical and mental health entertaining?

  20. elmerbrownelmerbrown says: Sep 13, 2014 11:16 PM

    Ill take that chance SIGN ME UP FOSHIZZL !!!!!!!!

  21. thetigerleg says: Sep 13, 2014 11:28 PM

    Miguel Tomlinez
    Pedro Carolla
    Juan Hariba
    Jeem Hariba
    Beel Bellichez
    Yustin Garretta
    Amore Smeeth
    Miguel McCartegna

  22. kd75 says: Sep 13, 2014 11:31 PM

    25% of the US population suffers from a mental disorder.

  23. thehatefulnerd says: Sep 13, 2014 11:33 PM


    Next you’ll tell me they also have higher rates of joint problems.

  24. chargerdillon says: Sep 13, 2014 11:39 PM

    And nearly 3 in 10 former players wont be broke by the time they’re 50.

    Completely due to their own spending habits.

  25. irishdodger says: Sep 13, 2014 11:43 PM

    Life is about choices. My heart pumps piss for these fatherless phenoms w/ learning disabilities who make (and blow) millions and then cry about head injuries they knew were a liklihood.

  26. Waxxx4321 says: Sep 13, 2014 11:56 PM

    Yeah like half of the world population doesnt have cognitive problems somewhere along the line. Jesus Henry Christ.

  27. jamaltimore says: Sep 14, 2014 12:02 AM

    great odds. I’ll take 7 vs. 3 every 10 times

  28. armchairqb says: Sep 14, 2014 12:09 AM

    Pretty sure some of these players had cognitive problems before they even strapped on a helmet.

    I’m looking at you, Charles Haley …

  29. beavertonsteve says: Sep 14, 2014 12:11 AM

    A note to the Steeler troll above. A true Steeler fan would be well aware of Mike Webster’s story. The man who played more seasons as a Steeler than anyone else died at age 50, destitute and suffering from dementia and CTE.

  30. tcopelin says: Sep 14, 2014 12:12 AM

    1/4th of them are as dumb as a box of rocks before they even played a down in the NFL 🙂

  31. revelation123 says: Sep 14, 2014 12:14 AM

    Good move NFL, good move.

  32. pfu2 says: Sep 14, 2014 12:18 AM

    They should get rid of helmets if they don’t want players to lead with them. Go back to leather helmets with no face masks & maybe insulate them with memory foam. Nobody will lead with the crown of their helmet!

  33. truthfactory says: Sep 14, 2014 12:23 AM

    Make any player who signs an NFL contract sign a waiver that they know all the risks. Done deal.

  34. ilovecostcobut says: Sep 14, 2014 3:14 AM

    “3/10” admitted, means. 6/10 minimum for real.

  35. dudeareno81 says: Sep 14, 2014 6:26 AM

    3 out 10 of everyone has cognitive problems. Anyone one who works in the real world knows this.

  36. bucsorbust says: Sep 14, 2014 6:35 AM

    Wow, that’s the same percentage as politicians…how weird is that?

  37. matt14gg says: Sep 14, 2014 9:47 AM

    Chris Nowinski never played in the NFL

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