The National Football League’s senior vice president for health and safety, Jeff Miller, appeared before a congressional committee on March 14. During the hearing, Miller made headlines by publicly acknowledging that there is a link between football and the devastating neurodegenerative disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE.
This is the first time that any representative of the NFL has acknowledged a definitive link between the sport and the disease, though research has effectively proven that repetitive cranial trauma is the most likely cause. The admission is all the more surprising because of the timing; just last month, Dr. Mitch Berger, a member of the league’s head, neck and spine committee, publicly disavowed that a link existed.
This abrupt reversal in policy has many asking questions, including four former players who are appealing the terms of a court settlement for players who developed the disease. There is speculation that the league’s shift in position could change the outcome of the appeal. Mostly, however, there is a general feeling that the statement is overdue.
Chris Nowinski, executive director of the Concussion Legacy Foundation, believes that Miller’s statement was a milestone moment. He told the Los Angeles Times, “The NFL spent years trying to convince the public that a link hasn't been established. We now need to tell them, 'The NFL believes there's a link. And if the NFL believes there's a link, you should believe there's a link, because they're the last people that want to believe there's a link.'”
The real problem
Nowinski believes that Miller’s acknowledgment should change the conversation about football and CTE. He believes that professional athletes are aware of the injuries they can incur and can make an informed choice about whether to continue playing. He believes that the focus should now be on the millions of children that play football across the country who are exposed to CTE from as early as 5 years old.
This is the information and acknowledgment that we need to move forward. We couldn’t agree more with Mr. Nowinski’s assessment; our focus needs to be on the safety of our children and their futures. It is absolutely essential that this message reaches parents everywhere; football can cause CTE, and our children are at risk.
At Crandall & Pera Law, we work every day to protect victims’ rights and make our world a safer place. We are here for you when you need us most. When you or a loved one is injured, you need experienced legal counsel by your side. For more information, visit one of our offices in Ohio and Kentucky, or use our convenient contact form today.