by Zachary McAuliffe
Posted In: football
at 10:53 AM | Permalink
New book reveals connection between football and brain injuries
A new book
set for release Tuesday called League of
Denial: The NFL, Concussions and the Battle for Truth is set to challenge
the NFL and their denial of a connection between concussions and football.
Mark Fainaru-Wada and Steve Fainaru, investigative reporters for ESPN, the book
claims the NFL has not only known about the connection between concussions in
the NFL and long-term brain injuries for about 20 years, but the league has
been actively trying to cover up these facts.
of Junior Seau as well as former NFL players such as the Bears’ David Duerson
and the Eagles’ Andre Waters have brought this issue to the forefront of players’
and fans’ minds. All three players are thought to have suffered severe brain
damage from injuries while playing football, all of which lead to their
has claimed for years they had no knowledge of any relation between the brain
injuries sustained from concussions and the deaths of professional players. Even
in the face of a recent lawsuit from players, the league held firm to their
did settle the recent lawsuit out of court for $765 million, and many questions
were raised asking if the league has been honest with how much they know about the
possible link between concussions and football.
For a long
time, concussions in the professional level of football were not seen as a big
issue because no one knew of the long-term effects. Former New York Jets
defensive lineman Marty Lyons talked with Rich Cimini of ESPNNewYork.com where
he described his own sideline concussion experience.
whenever a player would come off the field, the physician would hold up some
fingers, ask how many and, despite the player’s answer, the physician said, “Close
enough.” A couple plays later, or even the next play, the player would find
themselves on the field once again.
wasn’t the doctors or trainers saying, ‘You’re OK,’” Lyons said in the
interview. “I’m not saying the league didn’t know, I’m not saying the players
didn’t know. It was part of the game.”
to the authors of League of Denial,
the cover-up of how much the NFL knew about the connection started when the
former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue created a concussion committee in 1994
to better understand the effects of concussions on players. A few members of
the committee came forward in 1995 saying concussions were not “minor injuries”
as previously thought. These claims were quickly hushed by the NFL.
the book makes is that around 2000, some of the country’s top neuroscientists
told the NFL the big hits in football, especially those considered head-to-head,
led to not only concussions, but also what is known as chronic traumatic
the symptoms of CTE are higher rates of depression, dementia, memory loss and
rather than publishing these findings and telling players of the potential
harm, made no such effort and tried to ignore the facts.
2005, the authors report the NFL tried to persuade a medical journal to retract
articles and findings on concussions and their effects on individuals. The journal
in question refused and the findings continued to circulate without
authors spoke with Dr. Ann McKee, a former assistant professor of
neuropathology at Harvard Medical School and one of the leading professionals
on the link between football and brain damage, who said of the 54 harvested
brains of deceased NFL players, only two did not have CTE.
of these findings are not just exclusive to professional football. Youth, high
school and college football players are also at a high risk for
from 2007 titled “Concussions Among United
States High School and Collegiate Athletes,” found that about 300,000 people aged
15 to 24 suffered traumatic brain injuries every year from contact sports. This
number is only second to brain injuries sustained from motor vehicle
study also found of the total number of concussions from other collegiate
sports, including boys’ and girls’ soccer and basketball, football was
responsible for more than 40 percent of the concussions.
in high school sports have even led to the death of young athletes. Jaquan
Waller and Matthew Gfeller are two football players who died in North Carolina
after head injuries sustained during high school games this season.
from the University of Pittsburgh found that over the
past decade, 30-40 high school football players have died from concussions, and
the likelihood of contact sport athletes to receive a concussion is 19 percent.
are coming to the NFL, however, most notably in the minds of players. Bengals’
cornerback Brandon Ghee received two concussions in back-to-back preseason
games against the Falcons and Titans. Ghee was forced to take a five-week break
from contact because of these injuries.
interview with The
Enquirer, Ghee said if it weren’t for the recent deaths and lawsuit, he
would have wanted to go back to play immediately. Now though, he’s not so sure. “After the second one you have to think about
your kids and family,” Ghee said in the interview. “You don’t want any long-lasting issues.”
by Bill Sloat
Posted In: News
at 03:20 PM | Permalink
Retired football players die at high rates of Alzheimer’s and ALS
So much for glory days on the gridiron. Playing pro
football makes it far more likely than normal a brain can turn into
mush. And there’s elevated likelihood these once powerful bodies will
shut themselves down with Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Disturbing new data from the National Institute of
Occupational Safety and Health lab in Cincinnati says retired NFL
players are dying from Alzheimer disease and amyotrophic lateral
sclerosis at rates four times higher than the U.S. population. Other
neurodegenerative diseases kill retired NFL players at about twice the norm.
The study appears in this month’s issue of Neurology, a medical journal affiliated with the American Academy of Neurology.
Overall, retired football players live longer and are
healthier than most Americans, especially the linemen. But some of the
players who passed, caught and defended are clearly beset by excessive
amounts of neurodegenerative disorders later in the lives.
Former quarterbacks, running backs, fullbacks, receivers,
defensive backs, linebackers and safeties comprise the biggest group of
former players who suffer. All were in the so-called “speed” positions,
players who took hits that included high-acceleration head impacts.
For the pro football study, the Cincinnati-based research
team looked at health records of 3,439 retired NFL players who had five
seasons in the league between 1959 and 1988. The researchers tracked
down 334 death certificates across the nation. Of those, 17 had a
neurodegenerative disorder listed as the cause of death; 14 had been in
(Cardiovascular disease claimed 126 of the ex-NFL players; cancer took 85).
The NIOSH team said their findings add to a growing
collection of evidence that shows football players face an increased
risk of neurodegenerative disease. Most previous studies have focused on
long-term health effects of repeated concussions. Besides finding
increased death rates from Alzheimer’s, ALS (which often is called Lou
Gehrig’s Disease) and Parkinson disease (about three times the national
rate), the Cincinnati scientists raised an entirely new concern. They
said football players have elevated death rates from chronic traumatic
encephalopathy, which is a pathologically distinct neurodegenerative
condition. It sets in years after head-knocking and is linked to a
progressive decline in neuron functioning. It can change the ability to
think and makes it difficult to move about because the brain doesn’t
work as it should.
Chronic traumatic encephalopathy, which goes by the
initials CTE, isn’t reported on many death certificates because the
diagnosis has only been recently recognized.
Everett J. Lehman was lead author of the study; others who
worked on it were Misty Hein, Sherry L. Baron and Christine M. Gersic. The
researchers said their findings cannot be applied to other professional
sports. And the team says more information is needed about the impact
of football injuries:
“Because our cohort was limited to longer-term
professional players, our findings may not be applicable to other
professional and nonprofessional football players. However, recent
autopsy studies have reported pathologic findings of CTE in college-age
and professional football players with relatively short playing careers.
We did not have data on player injuries and conductions. If
chronic mild to moderate concussion is an actual risk factor for
neurodegenerative mortality, the magnitude of the risk may depend on the
intensity and frequency of brain injuries incurred over a number of
years. … Finally, we did not have information on environmental, genetic
or other risk factors for neurologic disorders.”NIOSH did not say it found a cause and effect for the
higher than normal number of Alzheimer and ALS deaths. But the
scientists said they had no doubt “that professional football players
are at an increased risk of death from neurodegenerative causes.”
0 Comments · Tuesday, May 8, 2012
Last week, former San Diego Charger and New
England Patriot Junior Seau, a future Hall of Famer, committed suicide.
Like former Chicago Bears safety Dave Duerson, the 42-year-old Seau shot
himself in the chest. Last February, before shooting himself, Duerson
sent a text to several family members.