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More owners dispute Jeff Miller’s admission of CTE-football link


The NFL has a problem.

Well, to be clear, the NFL has plenty of problems. But our insatiable appetite for NFL football allows the sport to thrive in spite of itself, at times. Still, it will become harder for the NFL to thrive if the cats who run the league can’t find a way to herd themselves on the question of the link between football and Chronic Traumatic Encephelopathy and the various other issues and potential links that flow from it.

Two weeks ago, NFL executive V.P. of player health and safety Jeff Miller admitted to the existence of a link between CTE and football. And the rest of the league office has not disputed that, as explained last week by Commissioner Roger Goodell.

“We think the statements that have been made through Jeff Miller and others have been consistent with our position over the years,” Goodell said.

Still, some owners have decided to take issue with the official position from the entity that is supposed to bring all teams together.

“I can’t say I agree with that comment,” Colts owner Jim Irsay told Daniel Kaplan of SportsBusiness Journal regarding Miller’s remarks. “To say you know all of a sudden there is a suicide or a murder, and to say, ‘Oh, that is football.’ I mean, that is completely ludicrous. It’s not just true. There is so much we don’t know. Whether you are dealing with Alzheimer’s, whether dealing with contact sports with concussions that can come into play, you know, we don’t know enough about it.”

Jets owner Woody Johnson used softer terms to reach the same conclusion.

“I am not in a position [to opine on the link between CTE and football],” Johnson said, via Kaplan. “I am a layman. [Jeff Miller] is a layman as well.”

Both Irsay and Johnson seem to be blurring the line between linking CTE and football and linking CTE with specific cognitive issues or other health problems. The more accurate statement is that, yes, there’s a link between CTE and football but, no, we still don’t know what it all means.

Irsay thinks that the uproar comes from those who hope to capitalize on the popularity of the sport — and the notoriety of the subject.

“Football is so popular, people know they can sell their story in a newspaper form or a rating on TV, so they use football because what they are more about in the business of, you know, selling newspapers or seeing commercial time on TV,” Irsay said. “I see it for what it is, man. I stand there and look at it as a grandfather and someone who has been around for 50 years and sure, part of it is frustrating, but everyone has their own self-motivating motive, and that just happens.”

The problem is that the NFL’s “self-motivating motive” continues to be the preservation of a billion-dollar business. Which causes folks like Irsay to make claims that many see as not credible.

“One thing I have always felt strongly about, that [is] to say, ‘Oh, someone knew something and they didn’t tell way back in the ’60s or ’70s,’ that’s just not true,” Irsay said. “I was there. I know that’s a lie. You know, no one knew anything. The only thing we know and always knew is when you strap on that helmet and go out on the field, boy you know you are taking a risk, but the reward is something. It’s worth it.”

Irsay is flat-out wrong on this. It’s been proven and accepted that the NFL, via the efforts of the Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Committee and acting on a “self-motivating motive,” downplayed and ignored at best and covered up and lied about at worst the risks of head trauma from 1994 until perhaps as late as October 2009, when the NFL had an epiphany provoked by a Congressional hearing on the issue. With Irsay spouting off what can fairly be characterized as nonsense regarding one of the darkest chapters in league history, it’s hard not to wonder what else is being downplayed, ignored, covered up, and/or lied about now.

It’s also hard to understand why the NFL doesn’t do a better job of pushing talking points to the owners and forcing them to parrot them. During and prior to the lockout, owners were forced to keep quiet, under threat of six-figure fines. On an issue much more important to the long-term viability of the league, why does 345 Park Avenue let the owners keep talking — especially when what they’re saying doesn’t mesh with the league’s broader message?

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56 Responses to “More owners dispute Jeff Miller’s admission of CTE-football link”
  1. Packernet says: Mar 28, 2016 11:03 AM

    So the NFL knew about something that hadn’t even been invented yet? I don’t think so. Nobody even knows what a concussion is today.

  2. dryzzt23 says: Mar 28, 2016 11:05 AM

    I see no problem with the NFL ownership closing ranks on this.
    If the owners were accusing the NFLPA and their clients of covering up or enabling player drug use, the media, the players, and the NFLPA would close ranks to protect the players and their evil union.

    All this is is a witch-hunt by the media, the NFLPA, and players, for damages that will only hurt the NFL.
    Greedy unions, greedy media, and greedy players. All of them are guilty for violating the laws of common sense.
    Don’t touch the hot stove says your Mom.
    You touch it anyway, then the union and media would have you sue your Mom for damages b/c you were stupid and touched the stove anyway.

    You don’t want CTE?
    Fine, don’t play football, hockey, or join the U.S. military.
    If you choose to play, you knew the risks but did it anyway. So when you are diagnosed with CTE, you should get NOTHING.

  3. collectordude says: Mar 28, 2016 11:06 AM

    The owners say whatever they want because there is no one in authority at the NFL main office in NY.
    goodell is a puppet of the owners. Nothing more.

  4. hookem6903 says: Mar 28, 2016 11:08 AM

    “There is so much we don’t know.” Yeah, there is also so much we DO know. But that continues to be disregarded by the ones whose pockets are being filled by the athletes who actually take on the health risks.

  5. Packernet says: Mar 28, 2016 11:09 AM

    The owners pay Goodell 40 mil a year to be their puppet. Not a bad gig.

  6. mzigg35 says: Mar 28, 2016 11:11 AM

    Wait.. A billion $ business covering up and lying about things that could harm there business… Nah no way ha

  7. thetooloftools says: Mar 28, 2016 11:13 AM

    Irsay. Yea, because you want to believe everything he says.
    Why not just have Mr. Ed do the talking for his Colts. This isn’t something people just discovered. It something that science and technology are only now able to reveal and these old men want to poo hoo it?
    Try being REAL men and owning it and moving towards solutions within the game. Maybe then you can EARN our respect.
    Right now you look like cave men rejecting the value of fire.

  8. seriously423 says: Mar 28, 2016 11:15 AM

    irsay and johnson……….great spokesmen for the gang of 32 (where’s mara? thought his da statement would be attached as well)

  9. californiaqid says: Mar 28, 2016 11:17 AM

    I no longer support football. Please consider joining me.

  10. scrp2 says: Mar 28, 2016 11:18 AM

    Players agreed to the NFL settlement. Cased closed. A movie ain’t gonna change that. Owners need to relax.

    Make a significantly better helmet. Why isn’t there some news about that? Why aren’t scientists working on that? Why isn’t the league paying for that?

  11. dryzzt23 says: Mar 28, 2016 11:19 AM

    Goodell was hired by and represents that NFL owners in the SAME manner that De Smith speaks for all NFL players.

    Yet whenever a player gets caught with drugs or beats a woman, etc….does ANYONE rip De Smith? No, of course not. Why? Because the media is liberal and is pro-union and anti-capitalist (aka NFL owners).

    THIS is discrimination IMO. De Smith gets away with doing nothing while Goodell gets ripped to shreds.

    The NFL- NFL player relationship is an employer – employee relationship where the employer has the authority to discipline the employee.
    With De Smith, that relationship goes to NFL – De Smith/NFLPA/sports media – players.
    So the players are protected whereas the NFL itself is unprotected.

  12. chuckshontaspads says: Mar 28, 2016 11:20 AM

    Irsay the pill popping, lucky sperm owner who had a woman overdose in his house is a fine spokesperson for the NFL on brain injuries. Can this league be more clueless on EVERYTHING!

  13. chrisk61 says: Mar 28, 2016 11:20 AM

    on more important topics…

    when does the schedule come out ?

    and where do QBs kaep and fitz end up ?

  14. whispersd says: Mar 28, 2016 11:23 AM

    “Why? Because the media is liberal and is pro-union and anti-capitalist (aka NFL owners).”

    The media is anti-capitalist?

    That’s ludicrous. Our media is part and parcel of mega-corporations that are, themselves, capitalist.

  15. eoyguy says: Mar 28, 2016 11:28 AM

    Perhaps like the term “global warming” had to be changed to “climate change” because every time it got cold in winter, people scoffed, they should just say CTE is caused by repeated blows to the head, and not by football. Then people like Irsay and Jerruh could say with a straight face (artificially so in Jerry’s case) that “football” doesn’t cause CTE. And he would be right…in a manner.

    I have a feeling that statements like this one by Irsay will go down in history alongside tobacco CEO’s swearing under oath that “nicotine is not addictive” and Rafael Palmero wagging his finger while denying PED use. Or ” I did not have sexual relations with that woman…”

  16. ipdaily69 says: Mar 28, 2016 11:30 AM

    Owners are choosing to be on the wrong side of history. Dollars before sense.

  17. 12brichandfamous says: Mar 28, 2016 11:30 AM

    Make a significantly better helmet. Why isn’t there some news about that? Why aren’t scientists working on that? Why isn’t the league paying for that?

    You honestly believe they aren’t working on that?

    The problem is the internal motion of the brain colliding with the skull. Helmets can reduce the acceleration, but not eliminate.

    I have no issue with owners whose OPINION differs. They will eventually get aboard the train as science improves.

  18. jamaltimore says: Mar 28, 2016 11:31 AM

    I suggest someone do a scan of Irsay’s brain. He’s got issues.

    I do though believe is one point with CTE link. It’s not just the fact that they get paid to be hit daily but there are MANY other factors, lifestyle included, that causes brain problems.

  19. raider8er says: Mar 28, 2016 11:32 AM

    Oh, the old “I’m not a scientist” deflection.

  20. 6ball says: Mar 28, 2016 11:33 AM

    Irsay : ” people know they can sell their story in newspaper form or a rating on TV ”

    Irsay then pointed to the Colts framegate leaks to Mortenson and Kravitz, who then distributed to every media outlet nationwide, as a newspaper success story.

    He added that ESPN and the NFL Network also did a masterful job in falsifying the weights of the game balls and leaving it up for six weeks, thus snookering the hapless public.

  21. doctorrustbelt says: Mar 28, 2016 11:46 AM

    FACT: Soccer will be the #1 sport in the United States in about 20 years.

  22. churchofthehoody says: Mar 28, 2016 11:58 AM

    FACT: Soccer has tons of concussions too…

  23. harrisonhits2 says: Mar 28, 2016 12:10 PM

    NFL morphing into big tobacco.

    Lies lies lies that’s all that comes from the league these days

  24. psubeerman21 says: Mar 28, 2016 12:10 PM

    All they care about is getting sued. That’s it. They don’t care about the players health. They care about potential litigation that could find them culpable and force them to pay millions.

  25. IB007 says: Mar 28, 2016 12:14 PM

    Looks like Irsay is on the sauce again …

  26. ( . Y . ) says: Mar 28, 2016 12:17 PM

    I didn’t realize this was still up for debate. Head injuries increase the odds of ending up with CTE. The more head injuries, and the more serious those head injuries are, the worse the odds are for you to get CTE. This really isn’t disputable. There are still a lot of things that need to be learned, but to just say football related head injuries aren’t a contributing factor is potentially the dumbest thing you could conclude.

  27. sonhoodoo says: Mar 28, 2016 12:23 PM

    imagine a self-made millionaire whose only son is a dingus like Jim. Bob really should have had more kids than this loser.

  28. tonebones says: Mar 28, 2016 12:25 PM

    A lot of people used to think autism was being brought on by vaccinations, so a lot of people stopped vaccinating their kids. Now a lot less people share that view as more research is disproving the link. Words like “link” and “cause” can be very dangerous if not enough research is done. Do more research if you really want to help the players. Jump to false conclusions if you really just hate football.

  29. clashpoint says: Mar 28, 2016 12:25 PM

    Sometimes it’s not just the players who the game gives brain damage to.

  30. swineflooo says: Mar 28, 2016 12:36 PM

    More to do with corporate cronyism rather than capitalism.

  31. breadmeatcheese says: Mar 28, 2016 12:45 PM

    So let’s make a mental note of these owners, and in the future, what they represent. Let’s not let time cloud their subhumane statements today.

  32. boyso3 says: Mar 28, 2016 1:02 PM

    Well if that’s what Jim Irsay believes in sure it’s %100 accurate. I mean when has this guy ever been off.

  33. proat17052 says: Mar 28, 2016 1:24 PM

    What a shock that a few people with BILLION$ of reasons to create doubt are, attempting to create doubt.

  34. eaglealan64 says: Mar 28, 2016 1:29 PM

    Last time I looked at the calendar 1994 wasn’t in the 60s or 70s ….

  35. lscottman3 says: Mar 28, 2016 1:30 PM

    Here’s a link that you can corroborate 100%

    The owners that deny a link between football and CTE


    Are the same owners who believe the patriots are guilty of deflated balls


    I think not

  36. granadafan says: Mar 28, 2016 1:31 PM

    Listening to these owners claim there’s no link to CTE reminds of politicians of a certain political persuasion claim that climate change and evolution don’t exist. They know what they’re saying is a load of bull, but they’re protecting their bottom line.

  37. daytontriangles says: Mar 28, 2016 1:39 PM

    So, the NFL isn’t certain that repeated head trauma over years of play can lead to brain injury.

    But they are absolutely certain that a football losing .2 PSI on a cold day is proof of tampering…

  38. sansbushman says: Mar 28, 2016 1:46 PM

    Thermal expansion is not recognized by the NFL

    The 180-year old Ideal Gas Law has not been proven by Ted Wells.

    Of course, link between CTE and playing football is just a myth.

  39. aquineas1 says: Mar 28, 2016 1:58 PM

    The NFL owners are an upstanding, trustworthy bunch, so um.. I believe ’em.

  40. theparadoxx82 says: Mar 28, 2016 2:21 PM

    Yea right…if the NFL was tougher with forcing their message, this would be a 1,000 word article bashing Goodell for silencing the owners.

  41. jayhawk6 says: Mar 28, 2016 3:41 PM

    This is almost as preposterous as a Florida Senator deflecting concerns about rising sea levels in and around his home town of Miami while campaigning for President.

  42. outlaw53 says: Mar 28, 2016 3:42 PM

    NFL + CTE = CYA

  43. patriotsticketssince1978 says: Mar 28, 2016 3:43 PM

    Is Irsay in the NFL drug protocol program? He has been suspended for it. He should be providing two samples a day for testing.

  44. paulrevereshorse1775 says: Mar 28, 2016 3:51 PM

    the first sentence of this article should look like this:

    The NFL has a problem ——–>>>>>

  45. rfahey22 says: Mar 28, 2016 4:09 PM

    If the NFL truly were forward-looking, it would admit a link, research the hell out of it (and not engage in shenanigans with the research like they’ve done in the past), trumpet the results of the research, whatever those results may be, and make whatever changes to the game are necessary – within reason – to reduce CTE risks. That is the best way to preserve the game and keep the owners’ gravy train flowing for decades or more to come.

    Of course, the NFL hasn’t done that and instead has preferred to cover up and obfuscate in hopes that the issue will eventually go away. It won’t, and if they don’t get their act together, I imagine that fewer kids are going to be playing football because of CTE fears and the NFL will make itself extinct.

  46. vetdana says: Mar 28, 2016 4:29 PM

    All of these people, who go on blindly making statements that Football and a higher incidence of CTE, have a little or no relationship , have rocks in their heads ! The powers that be want to protect an Industry worth tens of billions of dollars and they will do almost anything to accomplish same…BUT….the cat is out of the bag here ! ..anyone with a shred of common sense knows the truth.I see much trouble for the NFL in the future because this issue will only get worse and may very well finish the game , as we know and want to support it ! Sorry folks..that is the plain truth..

  47. djstat says: Mar 28, 2016 4:39 PM

    If players do not understand the risks of injury now then they are not doing their own due diligence. For those who played in the past, it sucks, but there are risks in all types of jobs. You agreed to play for money. Move on.

  48. dickensbslim says: Mar 28, 2016 4:40 PM

    This is a league with one of the most expensive puppets ever as its mouthpiece. Jim should’ve seen the value in this and hired a knockoff version to do his speaking for him.

  49. patriotsticketssince1978 says: Mar 28, 2016 5:14 PM

    There are risks in working in a shipyard. Anyone who developed mesothelioma from exposure to asbestos agreed to work there for money. Move on.

  50. monkeesfan says: Mar 28, 2016 6:39 PM

    The more I read actual data from the likes of the Frontiers For Human Neuroscience as well as the 2012 International Conference On Concussion In Sport, the more the demagoguery portraying football as killing its players via CTE gets exposed for what it is. That people are ripping Bruce Arians for what he said speaks poorly of the critics. The fact is CTE is not as prevalent as popular media is portraying it to be and not as lethal, either. People need to stop pushing the myth of football fatality and start correcting the record.

  51. corky2141 says: Mar 28, 2016 8:14 PM

    Nice Lawyer maneuver Mike, Irsay says they knew nothing in the 60’s & 70’s & you bring up ’94, but your point is right. Head trauma & CTE are linked, but what is CTE linked to? As you stated in a previous article, why does one guy live a full healthy life into his 70s and have it, but another dies in his 20s? Also, the doctors going after the NFL need to look harder & broaden their search/ test subjects to all contact sports & to people who didn’t play contact sports & see the difference.

  52. JSpicoli says: Mar 28, 2016 8:19 PM

    Lawyers coming for your money NFL.

    At least we have MLB, especially the NL. It’s the last pure thing in USA pro sports.

  53. rootpain says: Mar 28, 2016 9:18 PM

    rootpain says:
    Mar 28, 2016 8:28 PM
    “I am not in a position [to opine on the link between CTE and football],” Johnson said, via Kaplan. “I am a layman. [Jeff Miller] is a layman as well.”
    Well that’s a statement I can stand behind and support. I always thought that the issue of CTE should be handled by a priest or rabbi. There are already way too many issues in the NFL handled by the laity.

  54. tonebones says: Mar 28, 2016 10:34 PM

    We complain about our politicians and how they can’t ever seem to compromise or find common ground. It’s either black or white. We all sound just like those politicians. The owners are going to see it one way, and the people who hate football are going to see it the opposite way.

  55. steviaquinn says: Mar 28, 2016 10:40 PM

    31 NFL football players have committed suicide, 12 NBA players, 74 baseball players, 447 actors/actresses.

    The moral of the story is play football or basketball, its safer. who knew acting caused CTE

  56. BobbyHanks63 says: Mar 29, 2016 12:03 AM

    From opioid and major drug abuse for actors right steviaquinn?

    Let’s not change the narrative to comedy just yet.

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