NFL official affirms link with CTE

A senior NFL official admitted Monday there is a link between football and the degenerative brain disorder known as CTE.

Jeff Miller, the NFL’s senior VP of health and safety policy, said so at a roundtable discussion convened in Washington, D.C., by a U.S. congressional subcommittee on energy and commerce.

Asked by a congresswoman whether he believes there’s a link between football and degenerative brain disorders such as CTE, Miller answered:

“Well certainly, Dr. (Ann) McKee’s research shows that a number of retired NFL players are diagnosed with CTE, so the answer to that question is certainly yes.”

McKee is the Boston University neuropathologist who discovered CTE in the brains of 176 deceased people, including 90 of 94 ex-NFLers. She preceded Miller at the roundtable discussion, and provided overwhelmingly convincing evidence of the link.

Three days before the Super Bowl, a leading NFL consultant on brain trauma declined to make that same link — the NFL’s long-held position.

While an ESPN report stated that the consultant in question, Dr. Mitch Berger — professor and chairman of the University of California (San Francisco) department of neurological surgery, and a leading member of the league’s head, neck and spine committee — denied there is a link between football and CTE, Berger in fact provided a more nuanced answer.

He summed up his position as follows: “What I’m saying is there are football players who have come to autopsy who have been found to have changes consistent with CTE, and there are other individuals who come to autopsy who haven’t played football and they have degenerative changes as well,” Berger said.

Chris Nowinski, founder of Concussion Legacy Foundation, is one of the harshest critics of sports leagues that deny the link between head traumas suffered in their sports and degenerative brain disease.

“It’s about damn time,” he told Postmedia on Monday night, referring to Miller’s admission.

Nowinski predicted there will be “such a ripple effect throughout sports” as a result of the NFL’s admission.



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