For the first time ever, a senior NFL official has confirmed the link between football-related head trauma and CTE, chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a disease which can only be diagnosed after death. According to ESPN, the NFL's top health and safety officer was the one to recognise the link between the sport and the brain disease.
Jeff Miller, the NFL's senior vice president for health and safety, was asked by Rep. Jan Schakowsky during a discussions on concussions with the U.S. House of Representatives' Committee on Energy and Commerce if there was a correlation between football and brain diseases such as CTE occurring.
He said: "The answer to that question is certainly yes."
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Medical research had shown there was a close link between the sport and brain disease developing. The league has said in the past it recognises the link between football and concussions and how they cause damage, but this is the first time a senior NFL official has acknowledged the connection between the sport and brain disease.
Miller said he came to his conclusion after seeing the work of Boston University neuropathologist, Dr Ann McKee, who has diagnosed CTE in the brains of over 174 people. A list which includes 90 of 94 former NFL players.
The NFL official said about the fact little is known about CTE and how someone becomes subject to it: "I think the broader point, and the one that your question gets to, is what that necessarily means, and where do we go from here with that information."
Hours after Miller's comments the NFL released a statement through their spokesman Brian McCarthy, which said via USA Today: “He was discussing Dr Mckee's findings and made the additional point that a lot more questions need to be answered. He said that the experts should speak to the state of the science.”
NFL officials have denied the link between the two in the past. As recently as the Super Bowl.
On February 4 according to NBC News, Dr Mitch Berger, a member of the NFL's head, neck and spine committee, denied the correlation between playing football and developing CTE in later life, giving the answer of 'No' when asked about the possible link between the two.
Alongside the recent release of the film 'Concussion' which is about the league trying to hide a doctor's research into the brain injuries suffered by NFL players, and the recent rise in head traumas of players too, and the CTE topic is right on the agenda of many NFL fans.
Several players such as Hall of Famers Frank Gifford and Junior Seau were diagnosed with CTE by doctors after their death, and if more research isn't done by both doctors and the NFL, more players will unfortunately follow.