NFL Still Recovering from CTE

Last Tuesday, a new study revealed CTE in 110 out of 111 former NFL players. Seven days later, we’re even more disappointed in the NFL’s response than we could have imagined, and that’s saying something because we’ve been scrutinizing the NFL for years.

The last seven days in the world of football have been incredibly significant. We’ve seen progress in the fight for player safety, the research on CTE, and the awareness of the concussion issue amongst NFL players. The league also further cemented its stance that concussions are a non-issue.  

Let’s all do a little recap:

Tuesday, July 25: A postmortem study published by the Boston University School of Medicine and the VA Boston Healthcare System that revealed CTE in 87% of the 202 brains examined, all formerly belonging to football players. The sports world was quick to respond. Read our reaction here.

Wednesday, July 26: Reports surface that, in response to the new BU study, Democrats from the House Committee on Energy and Commerce sent a letter asking Roger Goodell if the league would “follow through with its commitment to the NIH.” This letter was sent in hopes that the NFL would continue to support the NIH’s research on the effects of CTE. Having used only $14 million of the funding, the NIH is still entitled to wads of cash from the NFL’s original $30 million pledge.

In a statement via ESPN, the NFL responded it was “engaged in constructive discussions” with the NIH going forward. This was great news! The NFL’s statement hinted at even more progress in understanding CTE. Not only was a credible and revealing study just published by BU but with continued donations from the NFL, the NIH would be able to improve upon research that is vital for player safety greatly.

Thursday, July 27: Forget Wednesday. On Thursday the NIH severed ties with the NFL and reminded us that Roger Goodell is not to be trusted. In a statement released that day, the NIH explained that “The NFL's agreement with [the funding arm of the NIH] ends August 31, 2017, and there are no current research plans for the funds remaining from the original $30 million NFL commitment.”

Why would the NIH turn down tens of millions in funding?

It’s simple; there’s blood on the money. The NIH is making a big statement by rejecting such generous donations the timing is no coincidence.

On another note, just two days after the BU study and in the middle of training camp, beloved Ravens’ OL and mathematician John Urschel, who is known for his combination of athletic and academic ability, announced his retirement at age 26. Urschel plans to pursue a doctorate in mathematics from MIT. CTE unquestionably played a role in his decision. In 2015 he published an article for The Player’s Tribune, stating, “I Envy Chris Borland,” a player who retired at age 24 due to concerns about CTE and its long term effects.

Friday, July 28: The BU study shook other players around the league as well.On Friday 2 time Super Bowl winning quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger publicly commented that CTE played a role in his decision to retire, “I know this new study that came out that 90 percent [of NFL] players' brains who were studied had CTE. There's a lot of scary things, and I think my wife would be okay if I hung it up, too.”

Saturday, July 29: On Saturday players and teams resumed training camp with the concussion issue looming in every locker room. As Giant’s DT Robert Thomas said, “It’s there. But it's not something we talk about a lot.”

Sunday, July 30: On Sunday, during training camp, more surprising exits from the NFL were announced. Giants safety Jadar Johnson, a 22-year-old rookie, abruptly retired, stating that “he values his health.” Additionally, 2x SuperBowl champion Rob Ninkovich, OL for the Patriots, announced his retirement as well.

Monday, July 31: On Monday NFL commissioner Roger Goodell deflected questions about CTE, stating in response, “the average NFL player lives five years longer than you (the average person).” No one is surprised to hear that the some of the world’s most elite and genetically gifted athletes live a few years longer than the average person. Life expectancy and quality life are not one in the same, but he doesn’t want you to know that. “I think the one thing everyone agrees on is there’s an awful lot more questions than there are answers at this point.” No, Mr. Goodell, the answers are in...

Tuesday, August 1: ESPN reported Tuesday that in response to the growing buzz around the concussion issue, the NFL offered to collaborate with the NFLPA in the study of marijuana as a potential pain manager because many see marijuana as a healthier substitute for opioids. However, if the NFL’s saga with the NIH is any indication, any so called “offer” by the league regarding player safety isn’t much of an offer at all. In fact, we’re sure most see it as another shallow attempt to deflect blame.

If, like us, you see player safety as a major issue in sports, join our coalition today!


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