The NFL Plays Dumb When It Comes to Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy
Research shows that the brains of former NFL players are abnormal due to serious trauma.
September 7, 2014
At the heart of the concussion controversy is chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disease found in individuals with a history of concussions and other head injuries. Symptoms of the disease include memory loss, dementia, aggression and depression — signs that many former NFL players are starting to experience. Players that have been diagnosed with the disease are dead, because CTE can only be confirmed posthumously.
Despite numerous independent studies and doctors who’ve raised red flags linking CTE to concussions sustained while playing football, the league still maintains its innocence. Twenty years ago, the league said the concussion controversy was a media-created problem and not a real issue for the NFL. Though former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue created the Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Committee in 1994 to publish investigations on the matter, the group was composed of league-affiliated doctors and researchers.
“The papers themselves were published in a journal that was basically co-opted by the league and edited by a consultant to the New York Giants,” Fainaru-Wada said. “It published paper after paper suggesting there are no real issues around concussions.”
While the league recently agreed to pay $765 million to settle a lawsuit brought by 4,5000 players and their families who accused the league of deliberately covering up knowledge about the consequences of repeated head trauma, details of the agreement state that the payout is not an admission of guilt by the NFL.
“When you still have the Commissioner [Roger Goodell] stating publicly that he’s going to let the doctors decide whether there’s a connection become playing football and brain damage, I think that’s surprising to a lot of doctors who’ve been studying this issue for as long as they have,” Fainaru-Wada said.