NFL acknowledges link between football and brain disease for the first time

Team helmets at NFL HQ in NYC Dec. 3, 2015. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

The chief health and safety officer of the NFL today acknowledged a connection between football-related head trauma and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), in what is the first time any senior football league official has said anything about the link between football and the devastating brain disease that affects so many who play the game.

From ESPN:

The admission came during a roundtable discussion on concussions convened by the U.S. House of Representatives' Committee on Energy & Commerce. Jeff Miller, the NFL's senior vice president for health and safety, was asked by Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., if the link between football and neurodegenerative diseases like CTE has been established.

"The answer to that question is certainly yes," said Miller.

He said he based his assessment on the work of Dr. Ann McKee, a Boston University neuropathologist who has diagnosed CTE in the brains of 176 people, including those of 90 of 94 former NFL players. The disease can only be diagnosed after death.

In a 2009 New York Times story, an NFL spokesman told the paper it is "quite obvious from the medical research that's been done that concussions can lead to long-term problems."

The league has never before linked playing football to CTE.

NFL acknowledges, for first time, link between football, brain disease [ESPN]

PHOTO [Reuters]: An impact absorbing helmet, a cushion for artificial turf and a rubberized tether that slows the speed of the head snapping back after a collision were products named winners of a research challenge co-sponsored by the NFL. Three separate innovation challenges are providing up to $20 million in research and technology development to better understand, identify and protect against brain injury.