The NFL’s top health and safety officer acknowledged Monday there is a link between football-related head trauma and chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE — the first time a senior league official has conceded football’s connection to the devastating brain disease.
The admission came during a roundtable discussion on concussions convened by the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Energy and Commerce. Jeff Miller, the NFL’s senior vice president for health and safety, was asked by Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., if the link between football and neurodegenerative diseases like CTE has been established.
“The answer to that question is certainly yes,” Miller said.
He said he based his assessment on the work of Dr. Ann McKee, a Boston University neuropathologist who has diagnosed CTE in the brains of 176 people, including those of 90 of 94 former NFL players. The disease can only be diagnosed after death.
“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,” Miller said, noting that little is known about the prevalence of the disease or the risk of incurring it.
On Tuesday, the NFL released this statement: “The comments made by Jeff Miller yesterday accurately reflect the view of the NFL.”
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