An NFL official has acknowledged a link between football and a degenerative brain disease for the first time.
Jeff Miller, the NFL’s senior vice president for health and safety, spoke about the connection during an appearance Monday at a congressional committee’s round table discussion about concussions.
Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-Illinois) asked Miller: “Do you think there is a link between football and degenerative brain disorders like CTE?”
Miller, who was referring to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), began by discussing the work of Boston University neuropathologist Dr Ann McKee, who has found CTE in the brains of 90 out of 94 former pro football players.
“Well, certainly, Dr McKee’s research shows that a number of retired NFL players were diagnosed with CTE, so the answer to that question is certainly ‘yes,’ but there are also a number of questions that come with that,” Miller said.
Schakowsky repeated the question: “Is there a link?”
“Yes. Sure,” Miller responded.
The NFL has not previously linked playing football to CTE, a disease linked to repeated brain trauma and associated with symptoms such as memory loss, depression and progressive dementia. It can only be detected after death. Among the players found to have CTE in their brains were Hall of Famers Junior Seau and Ken Stabler.
During Super Bowl week, Dr Mitch Berger, a member of the NFL’s head, neck and spine committee, would not draw a direct line from football to CTE.