A blog on science, politics, and activism. We are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. There was selection bias inherent in the study—many of the brains were donated because players’ families suspected CTE. As reporters Mark Fainaru-Wada and Steve Fainaru note in their book League of Denial, “The league used that journal, which some researchers would come to ridicule as the ‘Journal of No NFL Concussions,’ to publish an unprecedented series of papers, several of which were rejected by peer reviewers and editors and later disavowed even by some of their own authors.” A 2016 New York Times study found that much of the concussion data the committee used for its papers was significantly—and likely knowingly—flawed. In 2012, the NFL donated $30 million to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for brain research. Merrill Hoge retires due to concussions Citing the dangers of returning to football after sustaining several concussions, Chicago Bears fullback Merrill Hoge announces his … At her 2009 presentation to the NFL, Dr. Ira Casson—co-chair of MTBI since 2007 and one of the MTBI members who had called for Omalu’s first paper to be retracted—repeatedly questioned McKee’s work. This means that a football player can have undiagnosed symptoms of a neurological disorder, pass away, be found to have CTE and leave no money for his family from the settlement. Conversely, though players who are still alive may exhibit symptoms associated with CTE, many of those symptoms are also associated with disorders that are covered by the settlement, like Alzheimer's or Parkinson's. And of the 111 former NFL players, 110 had CTE—a 99% percent result. The NFL knew that CTE was a primary risk to its multi-billion dollar empire, so it did what every other corrupt gigantic corporation does when scientific evidence threatens its primary product: Deny, Deny, Deny. Our running list of attacks on science—disappearing data, silenced scientists, and other assaults on scientific integrity and science-based policy—provides a representative sample of threats to the federal scientific enterprise. We use cookies and other tracking technologies to improve your browsing experience on our site, show personalized content and targeted ads, analyze site traffic, and understand where our audiences come from. Note to Jerry Jones: Accept the Facts—There Is a Link between CTE, Football. He was the whistle-blower.”, Omalu was not the only researcher the NFL attempted to undermine, however. Four weeks into the 2002 pro-football season, the soon-to-be biggest problem for the National Football League was standing in a Pittsburgh autopsy room, looking down at the body of one of the most fearsome men to have ever played offensive lineman. In their letter, the scientists—who did not identify their NFL connection, and none of whom were neuropathologists—called Omalu’s research “completely wrong” and even claimed that for Webster “there is no known history of brain trauma inside professional football.” Unbeknownst to Omalu when he was writing the article, the NFL retirement board in 1999 had determined that Webster qualified for disability benefits because repeated blows to the head had left him “totally and permanently” disabled, making MTBI’s critique of Omalu’s work absurdly hypocritical. Why the NFL can finally admit football causes CTE and not owe players anything, Reviewing every Stephen A. Smith performance on ‘General Hospital’, Vince Carter once feuded with an entire city, Vince Carter’s 10-year beef with Toronto included Nelly, a possible body slam, and so many injuries, Shaq and Donovan Mitchell had the most awkward post-game exchange, How Goran Dragic tricked Jimmy Butler into giving him free Big Face Coffee, Jimmy Butler was cheated out of his hard earned money, The 11 best Bernie Sanders memes from sports fans. Terms and conditions. At the time the settlement was initially reached, the payout was more than $200 million lighter and the NFL still hadn't acknowledged a link, even though Boston University's Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy had already published evidence of CTE in former players who had donated their brains to the lab. But evidence of CTE did not discriminate against success — of the 165 brains, 131 showed evidence of CTE, for a grand total of 79.4 percent. Please also read our Privacy Notice and Terms of Use, which became effective December 20, 2019. © Union of Concerned Scientists Our transportation system is outdated and broken—and it needs to change. High-profile concussion-related retirements and injuries in the early 1990s had prompted reluctant NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue to create the NFL-run Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Committee (MTBI). "But our roles as judges is to review the settlement reached by the parties for its fairness, adequacy, and reasonableness.". Dozens of former players -- including 34 who played in the NFL -- have been diagnosed posthumously with CTE, a neurodegenerative disease linked to dementia, memory loss and depression. Omalu’s published paper on Webster in 2005 was the first time the disease was linked to a former NFL player, but it did not mark the discovery of CTE. Sports fans made some of the best Bernie Sanders memes from inauguration day. In 2009, Goodell disbanded MTBI and replaced it with a new research entity. By Sheilla Dingus. The first thing it did was study horse jockeys, not football players. Has the NFL Covered Up Concussion and Brain Injury Research? We need to grow a resilient food system from the ground up. The court's decision regarding the estimated $1 billion settlement paves the way for the start of payouts to more than 20,000 former players over a degenerative brain disease. That year, the league held a Concussion Summit, inviting most of the prominent scientists who had been fighting the NFL on concussions to present their work. Climate change is one of the most devastating problems humanity has ever faced—and the clock is running out. The fact that future players diagnosed with CTE may not be compensated seems like a reasonable sticking point, however. But the thing about CTE, in football or otherwise, is that can only be definitively diagnosed by after death. Why the NFL's admission over CTE could be momentous in the long ... between the game and long-term effects on the brain not the least of which has been rolling out dubious experts who deny … The exact amount of trauma required for the condition to occur is unknown. Other risk factors include being in the military, prior domestic violence, and repeated banging of the head. The NFL not only publicly denied evidence that long-term brain damage could result from concussions suffered by its players, but worked to undercut … (617) 547-5552. Such a trend will have inevitable consequences for the NFL in the long term, and those consequences may already be occurring. We use cookies to improve your experience. Omalu’s 2005 paper was particularly troubling for the league, as it concluded that Webster’s brain had “neuropathological changes consistent with long-term repetitive concussive brain injury.” The paper was published in Neurosurgery, of all places, an outlet chosen because Omalu and his co-authors believed that the NFL would be interested to hear of their research. In 2012, the NFL donated $30 million to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for brain research. The NFL Tried to Intimidate Scientists Studying the Link between Pro Football and Traumatic Brain Injury. Dr. In the NFL, the frequency was higher still at 96 percent. The energy choices we make today could make or break our ability to fight climate change. The Third District's approval was yet another acknowledgment that the NFL has, for years, turned a … Sign up or text "SCIENCE" to 662266. Around 300,000 high school athletes suffer from concussions every year, and while awareness of the risks of concussions now seems to be growing—likely due, in part, to increased awareness of the problems in the NFL—“concrete laws and practices still lag behind the science,” as the Atlantic reported in August 2017. [11] The NFL, then, had no choice but to squash and discredit not only Omalu’s research but Omalu himself, and that’s precisely what the league did. The NFL was no rookie at the Disinformation Playbook by the time Omalu published his initial paper on Webster in 2005. The National Football League conducted a two-decade campaign to deny a growing body of scientific research that showed a link between playing football … In the JAMA study, of the 84 participants with severe CTE, 89 percent had behavioral and/or mood symptoms, 95 percent had cognitive symptoms, and 85 percent had signs of dementia. Ashmore, played for the Rams, Raiders, and Redskins for eleven seasons between 1992 and 2002 and was a commanding presence on the field at 6’7’’ and 310 pounds. The NFL is finally copping to CTE now that it's not liable for it. Why isn’t it? The results were stunning. Help protect workers from dangerous heat. The US continues to keep intercontinental ballistic missiles on high alert—creating the risk of a mistaken nuclear war in response to a false warning. Such headlines hold the potential to create a crisis for the NFL because people might begin to link the game to a horrible disease. The settlement was reached on the basis that CTE wasn't serious, an assertion that seems absurd in 2016. Why or why not? Are you reluctant to let your sons play football? Ideally the symptoms associated with CTE will be recognized while players are still alive. The media coverage made CTE a paracrisis—a crisis risk that is managed in full view of the stakeholders. Of the 202 players, 177 had CTE. And What Should Parents Think? Instead, Neurosurgery published Omalu’s second paper, which found CTE in the brain of former Steelers offensive lineman Terry Long. Urge the Senate to require employers follow science-based protections for workers and their communities. As that future problem—Dr. The NFL is going to insulting lengths to prove that CTE isn’t a problem The NFL is funding its own concussion studies now. There may be instances when they are not, but for now -- at least, in the opinion of the Third Circuit -- the settlement as it stands is good enough. Stage 4 is the most aggressive stage of the disease. On Monday, nearly three years later, the settlement was approved by the United States' Third Circuit Court of Appeals against complaints by roughly 200 players that the settlement isn't comprehensive enough. Here's how. Instead of an amended settlement, the NFL was rewarded for its years of denying CTE. How Did the NFL Deny CTE? Omalu and his co-authors beat the attempt at retraction. But Omalu was not invited, and his colleague Julian Bailes presented Omalu’s research instead. The court noted that the 200 objectors were, relatively, a very small group. … Even in players with mild CTE, 96 percent had behavioral and/or mood symptoms and 33 percent had signs of dementia. At the same time, it encouraged the league's obstinacy. When fighting the NFL, that may be the best anyone can hope for. A lot of money is now available to players that didn't exist before the settlement. Notably, the settlement was approved even though it does not award any players who will be diagnosed with CTE, specifically, down the road. “It’s what we knew, and it’s science, and no one can say it’s not real, and the NFL can’t deny it anymore,” Brooks said. Darryl Ashmore, a former offensive lineman in the NFL has filed a lawsuit in the Southern District of Florida in hopes of claiming disability benefits the NFL denied him. I’m curious if readers are seeing the same thing I’m seeing. These were pretty compelling neuropathological findings, and so I guess to outright deny that there could be a relationship, I didn’t think that was really making an honest assessment of the evidence.”. That relationship was fraught with problems, however: a 2016 Congressional report accused the league of trying to influence the research, causing NIH to leave $16 million of the NFL’s donation on the table. In fairness, so did the players to a large extent -- the vast majority did not raise any objections to the settlement. That’s the low end, that’s the starting point. Despite the NFL’s attempts to fight off concussion science—both by harassing Omalu and through myriad other efforts—momentum built against the league, forcing it to take action. In 2005, Omalu published a paper on former Pittsburgh Steeler Mike Webster, “ Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy in a National Football League Player,” that brought CTE diagnoses in … What Omalu found in Webster’s brain—chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a progressive degenerative disease mainly associated with “punch drunk” boxers and victims of brain trauma—broke the NFL’s burgeoning concussion problem wide open. US electricity infrastructure is aging, inadequate, and vulnerable. The NFL can now acknowledge CTE without having to act or assume liability. It is well documented that the NFL relied on bad science to bolster its arguments. Though the admission came late, the court didn't believe it was significant enough to hold up the settlement any further and prevent players from taking advantage of the nearly $1 billion available to them. By choosing I Accept, you consent to our use of cookies and other tracking technologies. 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