Today, the news headlines hit harder than a linebacker. A postmortem study published by Boston University School of Medicine and the VA Boston Healthcare System on the brains of former football players diagnosed CTE in 87% of subjects. It's not surprising this study found that NFL players’ brains, in particular, exhibited higher rates of CTE — a whopping 110 out of 111!
With this independent study, comes the ability for advocates and sports medicine professionals to better identify, understand, and hopefully limit concussions in football. However, we still have a long way to go as unbiased CTE research is fairly rare.
Even though this groundbreaking study is out for all to see, the NFL continues to stands in the way. The study's senior author, Dr. Ann McKee, says researchers need tens of millions of dollars, up to and including more than $100 million, to conduct much needed additional research.
But, wait a minute! Didn’t the NFL pledge $100 million for concussion research and player safety last year? If you’re familiar with the NFL, you know that this pledge is virtually worthless. McKee called out the NFL in the most amazing way, saying that:
"I will be extremely surprised if any of the 100 or 200 million comes my way. The NFL directs funding only to research they approve of."
She doesn't expect any continued NFL support because "the results are considered too damaging."
Wow! If a top researcher is this skeptical the NFL is dirtier than we thought. If they really cared about player safety, the NFL would help and they wouldn't be so hell bent on obstruction but of course they have too much to lose.
More importantly, we don't think Members of Congress should accept NFL campaign contributions until we get to the bottom of this issue and get all the facts from an unbiased source.
Because of the risk of developing CTE, it’s not unusual for a player to retire early from the NFL, like David Bruton, a defensive back for the Broncos who recently announced his plans to retire. He said that his decision was influenced by health concerns — more specifically, the six concussions he sustained in only eight seasons.
“So I like [sic] to have my brain functioning when I get a little older. That was a big reason.” Bruton explained.
Having to make the decision between football and their own health is the sad reality for all too many athletes. The fight for player safety is as controversial as ever; fans and players don’t want to see the physical game they love become a non-contact sport, but we have to do a better job of protecting our players. We don’t need to turn the NFL into flag football, we just need clarity when it comes to the facts but the NFL has long stood in the way of that. This is why SFC has fought the NFL on issues around honesty and transparency, and while that seems to be a simple enough request, it has not been an easy task.
We launched a letter writing campaign aimed to call out those Congressional Members who, “investigated” the NFL’s malpractice, yet also accepted over $290,000 in campaign contributions from League sources. Thousands of you, the fans, participated.
If you care about this issue and you care about your athletes, join us as we continue to take the fight directly to the League.