New research published this week has revealed that 87 out of 91 deceased former NFL players who have been examined for CTE at the nation’s largest brain bank tested positive for the brain disease. This latest report comes from Frontline, who have further details.
Researchers with the Department of Veterans Affairs and Boston University have now identified the degenerative disease known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, in 96 percent of NFL players that they’ve examined and in 79 percent of all football players. The disease is widely believed to stem from repetitive trauma to the head, and can lead to conditions such as memory loss, depression and dementia.
In total, the lab has found CTE in the brain tissue in 131 out of 165 individuals who, before their deaths, played football either professionally, semi-professionally, in college or in high school.
Forty percent of those who tested positive were the offensive and defensive linemen who come into contact with one another on every play of a game, according to numbers shared by the brain bank with FRONTLINE. That finding supports past research suggesting that it’s the repeat, more minor head trauma that occurs regularly in football that may pose the greatest risk to players, as opposed to just the sometimes violent collisions that cause concussions.
The research surrounding CTE and what causes it has been called “imperfect” and “inconsistent,” but it’s obviously not a good look for the NFL and its execs, who haven’t exactly acknowledged the idea that the sport may be problematic to the health of those who play it.
The upcoming film Concussion, starring Will Smith, will focus on the connection between CTE and the NFL and, specifically, the story of the doctor who first discovered the possible link.
Regardless of your thoughts on the sport, such damning studies have to be a bit unsettling for not only those who play the game, but also for those who are involved in running it as a business.