Jeff Miller, the NFL’s senior vice president for health and safety, said there is a a link between football and neurodegenerative diseases like CTE, according to ESPN.
This marked the first time a senior league official conceded football’s connection to the devastating brain disease. However, he said there are a lot of questions that come with that.
Miller made the statement at a round table discussion held at the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Energy and Commerce.
Last year, a federal judge granted final approval in the long-running concussion-litigation between retired players and the NFL.
Hence, a lawyer representing seven former players sent a letter to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals which said Miller’s acknowledgement was a, “stark turn.” in the league’s position on head trauma, according to ESPN.
Miller said his assessment was based on the work of Dr. Ann McKee, a Boston University neuropathologist who has diagnosed CTE in the brains of 176 people. McKee’s work includes diagnosing CTE in 90 or 94 NFL players, 45 out of 55 college football players and six out of 26 high school football players.
McKee herself said there is a link between playing football and CTE. She said she does not think it represents how common the disease is in the living population. However, she said it cannot be rare.Â
“I think we are going to be surprised at how common it is.” McKee said.
The round table discussion consisted of a dozen concussion experts, representatives from the federal government, the military, the scientific community and the NCAA.
The conversation focused on the growing debate over the seriousness of concussions. Some speakers said that concussion awareness is at its’ peak.
Others cautioned against linking concussions with CTE.
CTE is a neurodegenerative disease only found in people exposed to head trauma. Researchers are still finding a way to diagnose CTE in living people.
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