NFL exec: Research shows a link between football and CTE

AP

At a press conference during the week before the Super Bowl, Dr. Mitch Berger, a member of the NFL’s Head, Neck and Spine Committee, said that there was not a link between football and CTE.

Jeff Miller, the league’s senior vice president for health and safety, gave a different answer at a discussion on concussions held by the House Committee on Energy & Commerce in Washington on Monday. Miller and Dr. Anne McKee, a professor of neurology and pathology at Boston University, were both asked about a link between football and the degenerative disorder.

McKee, who has studied the brains of football players, said her research “unequivocally” supported a link. Miller didn’t disagree.

“Certainly Dr. McKee’s research shows that a number of retired NFL players were diagnosed with CTE, so the answer to that question is certainly yes,” Miller said in response to Rep. Janice Schakowsky.

Miller added that there were a “number of questions” that came with that. Schakowsky then asked for an “unequivocal answer” of his own.

“Y0u asked the question whether I thought there was a link, and certainly based on Dr. McKee’s research there’s a link, because she’s found CTE in a number of retired football players,” Miller said. “I think the broader point, and the one that your question gets to, is what that necessarily means and where do we go from here with that information.”

Miller’s comments are the first from an NFL employee drawing a clear line from playing football to CTE, which is significant in light of the position that Berger took just a month ago. The NFL focused on letting science take the lead in a statement later on Monday.

“[Miller] was discussing Dr McKee’s findings and made the additional point that a lot more questions need to be answered,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said, via the Washington Post. “He said that the experts should speak to the state of the science. We want the facts, so we can develop better solutions. And that’s why we’re deeply committed to advancing medical research on head trauma, including CTE, to let the science go where the science goes. We know the answers will come as this field of study continues to advance.”

There’s little to no credibility in arguing with scientific findings about CTE in the brains of football players nor is there any credibility in arguing that playing football absolutely gives you CTE. Given those truths, the continued focus in research should be in finding out how to lessen the risk of developing CTE or other neurological disorders before and after players advance to the NFL level.

56 responses to “NFL exec: Research shows a link between football and CTE

  1. Wait… you’re telling me that running full speed into other human beings at full speed might cause inflammation of the brain (a body’s normal response to crash trauma)

    Who could have guessed…

  2. I am a big believer in science and I hope they get to the bottom of this. It might take a while. They’ve been studying autism in children for years and they’re still trying to figure it out. Lots of ex-players are perfectly healthy. Lots of folks who never played football have brain related issues. It might even be that the football players ate a diet that was higher in carbs, which leads to brain inflammation in some people, more than others. There is a lot of research about the diets that are high in glutens and inflammation. These guys are right. Let the science speak. Don’t jump to false conclusions. Take precautions in the mean time. Eliminate head shots from the game and glutens from the diet.

  3. “The NFL focused on letting science take the lead in a statement later on Monday.”

    Seriously? That’s rich, coming from a league that ignores the Ideal Gas Law in its witch hunt against Tom Brady and the Patriots.

  4. This is the beginning of the end for the NFL. Parents are no longer going to let their kids play football and the rule changes the NFL implements to try to counteract CTE will make the game unwatchable. It may take 20 or 30 years but it’s over.

  5. Well I didn’t believe there was a link but now that the NFL admitted it, I guess I have to stop watching football forever…

  6. Im just blown away with these NEW results….. More proof they play us fans like fiddles. Lets start a new league and invite all 32 teams to join. Go back to what the league was under Taglibue. This new league run by lobbyists thru Hillary Clinton, oops, I mean Goodell.

  7. Dr. Mitch Berger sounds as stupid as those cigarette company CEO’s who stood up and said their was no link between their product and cancer. What an idiot.

  8. Send in Kim Fields to save the day! She has been fired from so many other departments at the NFL and then promoted that this is the chance for her to show she isn’t just an affirmative action quota filler!

  9. And in other news, water is wet.

    I love football as much as the next fan. We cheer all the hard hits and ESPN loves to put reels together, but it’s a huge risk that we pay big money to see. The NFL likes to gloss over the unpleasantness of our favorite game. Physics and force still works when you’re asking men to throw themselves into other men at 10-20 MPH each. Some of those are head shots and while the penalty and fines are stiff, those guys will probably never be the same again despite the fancy helmet.

    The game’s icons are dying off and many are attributed to too many shots to the head, or can at least be linked to other brain diseases. Junior Seau comes to mind. Most recently Kenny Stabler, while he was ill with other things, had CTE and his family released that after his death. This is at least a first step in the NFL admitting the obvious. There is a “link”, but as far as this fan believes, there is more than just a “link.”

  10. So the NFL Execs have now finally Rung the Bell about getting your “Bell Rung” ?!

    A little late to the game, huh?

  11. Why are some players showing signs of brain injury and others aren’t? They played the same sport. There’s more to the puzzle. some people’s brains are more susceptible to head trauma because of inflammation that results from your diet. But I know we’re looking for a boogyman here, so let’s just look at bits and pieces of the science that fit the agenda. This is turning into a crock.

  12. thetooloftools says:
    Mar 15, 2016 8:56 AM

    Dr. Mitch Berger sounds as stupid as those cigarette company CEO’s who stood up and said their was no link between their product and cancer. What an idiot.
    ————————————
    Well the NFL did use Exponent during Deflategate. The company that said there was no danger of second hand smoke.

  13. This issue…CTE…is Not going to go away..There is little doubt that the very Nature of the sport causes long term Brain Injury.The question is : how long is it before this issue will cripple,and ultimately destroy the game that we all love ! Right now Big Money is fueling this Sport with the needed Athletes to report on the Field. But…High Schools, and some Colleges, accross the Country are discontinuing the sport of Football. Just how long will it be before the Big Colleges follow suite ? Parents do not want to put their children at high risk to receive brain or other debilitating injuries.These issues will , in time, reduce the popularity of the sport to the point of making it unwatchable.Why…because the rules will have to change enough to vastly reduce high risk injury thereby resulting in effect, a game of Flag Football, which no one will pay to see.I believe all this is coming much faster than most of us will believe.

  14. NFL hired Ted Wells, he got a report from Exponent that proved head injuries were caused by the types of pillows used at the hotels the players stay at, nothing at all to do with playing the game.
    So nothing to see here.

  15. I think it is difficult for non-scientists to interpret comments made by scientists.

    Yes, we have discovered that some notable deceased ex-NFL players have CTE. Unfortunately, we don’t know how many living players, ex- or current, have developing CTE. And we also don’t know how many non-NFL players have CTE, or had CTE when they died.

    I think the cautious statements by scientists are simply an aspect of the way they think: until they know more, they won’t speculate publicly about cause and effect. That doesn’t mean that scientists are ignoring the possibility of football causing CTE, it just means that the issue of CTE is larger than football, and deserves careful investigation.

  16. As a parent, there are many other sports to get involved with to satisfy the competitive edge. When my 2 sons get to the age of wanting to play tackle football, I won’t say no ,if they want to give it a go, but I will make sure other sports are options.

  17. “I don’t know what CTE stands for, but it’s nothing that can’t be fixed with prayer and buying an American car.”

    – Average NFL fan 2016

  18. Goodell will now randomly test for concussions throughout the season, and then bury the information in a secret vault and pretend it does not exist.

  19. The generation of NFL player from the 70’s-thru early 2000’s is the most likely to be at risk of CTE, IMO. Leather helmets in the early years and minimal facemasks prior to the 70’s led to a different style of game. Today’s player has better equipment, safer rules, and protocols in place in the event of a head injury. But that group in that 30 year span played the game without any regard to safety. They will be hit hard with the CTE symptoms. I recall using my head (helmet) as a weapon when I played HS and college ball in the mid to late 80’s. Comparing helmets with teammates after the game to see who had the best markings on their helmet from the opponents helmet.

  20. I wonder if any of these doctors and/or researchers have ever worn a football helmet before? If not, they should put one on and wear it for one full week and keep it on for the same amount of time the average NFL player has his helmet on during the season.

    In my opinion too much attention is being focus on them”hits” and not the helmets themselves. It is not natural for a human being to have their head in a vice for several hours a day, everyday, for six months out of the year.

    When you take your helmet off during a game what happens? There are gigantic red imprints all over your head because the helmets have to be that secure and tight while wearing them to “protect you” from the dangers of a big “hit” that could cause you to get injured.

    In my opinion, the helmets are the problem, the helmet to helmet hits just speed up the process. If the NFL wants to stop defenders from leading with their head, if they want to stop all these vicious helmet to helmet blow, if they want to stop this brain disorder they need to have the players go back to wearing leather helmets. The “new and improved” scientifically built NFL helmets are causing this problem and when you couple the tightly worn helmets with a vicious impact of a football hit, the problem in them worsened and speed up.

    JMO

  21. It may very well be likely that there is a link. But nothing they said proves that. Saying that research supported a link doesn’t mean it proves there is a link. It merely means it doesn’t disprove it.

    This is non sequitur logic. Just because a number of players have it doesn’t mean there is a link between playing football and CTE. I’ll bet a number of people who eat ketchup have it too. That doesn’t mean ketchup causes it.

    If I had to guess, I would say it’s likely that the hitting that takes place in football could cause CTE. But before they say it does, they really should prove it.

  22. It doesn’t take a rocket scientists to link that hitting your head on a weekly basis for 7-10 years you will wind up having scrambled eggs for a brain.

  23. The saying that “Correlation does not imply causation” is important to remember.

    Hence the answer to the question: Does Football cause CTE? is We don’t know.

    Is there a link between football and CTE? We think so, but are not yet sure.

  24. Nobody is forcing these gentleman to play the game. If they don’t accept the risk…. find another job!

  25. But the real question is, what is the motivation behind all this? Is it really safety? Because if safety is the REAL motivation behind all this, then why is the NFL the only league and football in general the ONLY sport who is answering for this? Motocross, hockey, field hockey, and soccer ALL have the same problem. It is my understanding there are more concussions in soccer than football.

  26. I’m getting tired of all these “special interest” groups coming after the league for a simple buck. There’s risk and downfalls with every occupation.

  27. Also breaking news, Carpel Tunnel Syndrome, known as CTS, is linked to office workers around the world. Black Lung is linked to workers in mines.

  28. And in other news, drinking alcohol too quickly can cause motor skills impairment and lead to poor decisions. Where do they find these idiots? Hello Captain Obvious

  29. …There’s little to no credibility in arguing with scientific findings about CTE in the brains of football players nor is there any credibility in arguing that playing football absolutely gives you CTE. Given those truths, the continued focus in research should be in finding out how to lessen the risk of developing CTE or other neurological disorders before and after players advance to the NFL level….

    ——————————————————

    I haven’t ever seen someone with medical credentials arguing that playing football absolutely gives you CTE… obviously some get it and some do not, but the linkage is clear as day and the NFL should fund 3rd party research into making the game safer, not just do it internally so that they get the answer they want.

    this guy coming out and saying there’s a link could very well be the NFL’s angle to do their own self serving research to counter outside CTE researchers

  30. ktm300xcwe says:
    Mar 15, 2016 11:15 AM
    But the real question is, what is the motivation behind all this? Is it really safety? Because if safety is the REAL motivation behind all this, then why is the NFL the only league and football in general the ONLY sport who is answering for this? Motocross, hockey, field hockey, and soccer ALL have the same problem. It is my understanding there are more concussions in soccer than football.

    Not so much, this is one of those “everyone else is doing it” comments.

    First keep in mind that concussion is not yes or no, there are levels. A flat out run into another helmeted player is not the same as 2 soccer players knocking coconuts together contesting a header.

    Motox uses a completely different type of helmet that is more or less destroyed on impact. If you take a head shot in MX you get a new helmet. FB helmets are meant to take repeated hits. This transfers the energy to the wearer rather than destroying the helmet.

    The other sports you mention certainly have issues but less than football. None of them use the head as a weapon, even though this is “frowned upon” of late. Soccer injuries result from heads connecting on headers by much smaller players, nowhere near the force generated by football players. Hockey may be close (and their day is coming as well) but no other sport involves the level of force and repetition of hits as does football.

  31. @ktm300xcwe – the reason other sports aren’t making a big deal about this is that CTE, despite the name of the movie, isn’t caused by concussions. It’s caused by repeated sub concussive blows to the head. Only football, boxing, mma & mebbe professional wrestling really have that as a “normal” part of the sport. Mebbe heading a soccer ball counts? I dunno…?

    What I do know, is that despite football & hockey legislating headshots out of the sport (which isn’t really a bad thing) it doesn’t actually eliminate the cause of CTE in football. Most of the famous CTE cases haven’t been receivers who were getting laid out in the open field, they’ve been linemen, backers & safeties – people who don’t usually end up lying on the field unconscious. The very act of playing football, and smashing into somebody 100 times per day from age 15-30+, is what seems to be the problem. Which is a reeeally unfortunate truth.

  32. Sorry, I should’ve phrased that differently…

    CTE isn’t JUST caused by concussions. It’s caused by repeated sub concussive blows to the head.

    Don’t wanna give the impression that concussions are somehow not involved in this… It’s just that there’s more involved than the highlight reel concussions.

  33. When science threatens the profits of billionaires, they will refuse to acknowledge the truth long after everyone else knows what’s happening. Gotta squeeze every dollar they can even if it’s ruining lives. Just look at carbon fuels. Exxon knew 30 years ago they’d cause climate change but instead of changing their business model they funded fake propaganda to refute the science. Profits over the good of mankind. Every time.

  34. … and firefighters tend to die more often from getting burned up
    … and police from getting shot
    … and software engineers from getting heart attacks
    … and bus drivers from bus accidents
    … and writers that do all their work from home tend to die more often from home invasions (I don’t know if this is true, but it sounds good).

    Let’s face it. Every physical profession has its risks. NFL salaries are way higher than other professions that have even higher risks, like mine workers.

    Another point: I think we need a control group. How many non-football players get CTE?

  35. It may very well be likely that there is a link. But nothing they said proves that. Saying that research supported a link doesn’t mean it proves there is a link. It merely means it doesn’t disprove it.

    This is non sequitur logic. Just because a number of players have it doesn’t mean there is a link between playing football and CTE. I’ll bet a number of people who eat ketchup have it too. That doesn’t mean ketchup causes it.

    If I had to guess, I would say it’s likely that the hitting that takes place in football could cause CTE. But before they say it does, they really should prove it.
    ———————————————————-

    It has not been a number of people, it has been EVERYONE they have tested.

  36. Science 101: Form a hypothesis -> Test the hypothesis -> Form a conclusion.

    But even science is politically driven nowadays…

    Global Warming is the most relevant example I can think of…

    There is science proving it exists and science proving that it’s doesn’t. So who’s science is correct? Obviously whichever science supports your political opinion!

    So please stop pretending that science is the end all be all to truth!

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