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. In 2012, the NFL donated $30 million to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for brain research. 15% is disturbingly high, that number should be in the decimal places. Rather than honestly deal with its burgeoning concussion problem, the National Football League went after the reputation of the first doctor to link the sport to the degenerative brain disease he named Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy. Clean energy investments can help. 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. Our transportation system is outdated and broken—and it needs to change. Why or why not? 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. (617) 547-5552. In March, the New York Times revealed that at least 100 concussions were omitted from a database that an NFL committee used to downplay the dangers of head injuries. Can we prevent them from being used again? The NFL is going to insulting lengths to prove that CTE isn’t a problem The NFL is funding its own concussion studies now. 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. In 2009, Goodell disbanded MTBI and replaced it with a new research entity. 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. Call on Congress to prioritize science-based election reforms. Grappling with climate change requires transforming how we power our economy, and no sector requires more fundamental change than transportation, which accounts for the largest share of US global warming pollution. Beginning in 2003, MTBI published research in the journal Neurosurgery (whose editor-in-chief consulted for the New York Giants) that heavily downplayed the breadth and severity of concussions. The settlement was reached on the basis that CTE wasn't serious, an assertion that seems absurd in 2016. In 2016, the NFL added both new concussion rules and a new $100 million initiative called “Play Smart, Play Safe,” with $60 million going toward technological development—such as better helmets—and $40 million going toward medical research into head injuries. Text STOP to opt out. "If we were drawing up a settlement ourselves, we may want different terms for a certain condition," the judges wrote. It also acknowledged the NFL's own acknowledgment -- when senior vice president Jeff Miller admitted in March that, "certainly yes," there is a link between football and neurodegenerative diseases like CTE. We are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. The National Football League conducted a two-decade campaign to deny a growing body of scientific research that showed a link between playing football … Heisman Trophy winner and former NFL All-Pro Bo Jackson said in a 2017 interview with USA Today that if he had known about the risks associated with CTE, he would never have played football, and he discourages his children from doing so. When fighting the NFL, that may be the best anyone can hope for. Instead of an amended settlement, the NFL was rewarded for its years of denying CTE. We are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. The Third District's approval was yet another acknowledgment that the NFL has, for years, turned a blind eye to the realities of CTE. Here's the bizarre thing about the court's decision: It acknowledged the link between football and CTE, and that the NFL should have known about it. 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. 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. It is well documented that the NFL relied on bad science to bolster its arguments. To learn more or opt-out, read our Cookie Policy. To that end, the judges found that "this settlement will provide significant and immediate relief to retired players living with the lasting scars of a NFL career, including those suffering from some of the symptoms associated with CTE. 2 Brattle Square, Cambridge MA 02138, USA CTE can lead to cognitive symptoms like memory loss and even suicidal behavior, and it increases a person’s risk of developing other brain diseases, including Alzheimer’s. 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. In its opinion, the court said that it might have changed certain aspects of the settlement if it were starting from scratch. Bailes later confirmed that the NFL was ostracizing Omalu, saying that “they were trying to blackball him, lock him out, marginalize him. 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. By choosing I Accept, you consent to our use of cookies and other tracking technologies. 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. Stabler, an NFL MVP and Hall of Famer, was diagnosed with high Stage 3 CTE. 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. Stage 4 is the most aggressive stage of the disease. 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. That database was the basis of several studies by the league's Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Committee, headed by a rheumatologist named Elliot Pellman, that said that there is no definitive link between CTE and football. Another expert, Dr. Ann McKee, was later brought in to look at the brains of former NFL players. The Union of Concerned Scientists is actively monitoring the coronavirus pandemic and its implications for scientific integrity. How CTE may be affecting decline in NFL viewership. "Retired players who were living with symptoms associated with one of the other Qualifying Diagnoses, but died before approval of the settlement, may not have had sufficient notice of the need to be diagnosed," the court wrote. We're arming the new administration with facts, evidence, and science. The CTE diagnosis did bring some closure, however. Again, the judges admit that the settlement isn't perfect. [11] And What Should Parents Think? The league is additionally working on its $1 billion plan to settle the thousands of concussions lawsuits filed by former players. The election is over, but the crises are all still here. The NFL was no rookie at the Disinformation Playbook by the time Omalu published his initial paper on Webster in 2005. Another doctor at the meeting, Colonel Jaffee, recalled that Casson “was the most challenging and outright mocking. That’s the low end, that’s the starting point. Bennet Omalu, a Nigerian-born forensic pathologist tasked with that day’s routine autopsies—stared at the battered body of “Iron Mike” Webster, he made what would turn out to be a fateful decision: he asked his assistant to preserve the brain for future study. Five tactics business interests use to sideline science, deceive the public and buy influence at the expense of public health and safety. Why isn’t it? 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. For the first time ever, a senior NFL official publicly acknowledged that there's a link between football and the degenerative brain disease known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). there is a link between football and neurodegenerative diseases like CTE, The gore, guts and horror of an NFL fumble pile, NFL referee Sarah Thomas doesn't have time for your nonsense, I understand why Andrew Luck retired, because I’ve been in his shoes, 10 unwritten rules to not screw up your NFL jersey number, The never-before-revealed details of the Eli Manning draft-day trade. But the NFL continued to attack Omalu’s work, saying “it’s not appropriate science” and that his work was “purely speculative.”, The NFL’s efforts to undermine Omalu continued in 2007 after Roger Goodell took over from Tagliabue as NFL Commissioner. 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.”. In 2013, the NFL settled a concussion lawsuit brought by about 5,000 former players. 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. 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. And of the 111 former NFL players, 110 had CTE—a 99% percent result. The NFL and CTE Understanding the disease, exploding one big myth. The court thinks the concussion settlement is good enough. Feeling the weight of the time passed, it approved something it felt could help a lot of players. The energy choices we make today could make or break our ability to fight climate change. The NFL not only publicly denied evidence that long-term brain damage could result from concussions suffered by its players, but worked to undercut … Instead, soon after the paper’s publication, Omalu received notice that MTBI was calling for its retraction. 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. 2 Brattle Square, Cambridge MA 02138, USA, Infographic: Wildfires and Climate Change, Building Equitable, Clean, and Climate-Safe Infrastructure, How Soil Erosion Threatens Food and Farms, he asked his assistant to preserve the brain for future study. As that future problem—Dr. 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 … The NFL can now acknowledge CTE without having to act or assume liability. Notably, the settlement was approved even though it does not award any players who will be diagnosed with CTE, specifically, down the road. The reasons the court gave illustrate just how effective the NFL's foot dragging was. Of the 202 players, 177 had CTE. A lot of money is now available to players that didn't exist before the settlement. 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. Even in players with mild CTE, 96 percent had behavioral and/or mood symptoms and 33 percent had signs of dementia. Such headlines hold the potential to create a crisis for the NFL because people might begin to link the game to a horrible disease. 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. How Did the NFL Deny CTE? US electricity infrastructure is aging, inadequate, and vulnerable. We use cookies to improve your experience. In its opinion, the Third Circuit called the NFL's admission on CTE "an important development," but that it was "conceding something already known." I’m curious if readers are seeing the same thing I’m seeing. October 13, 2016. Climate change is one of the most devastating problems humanity has ever faced—and the clock is running out. 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. Please also read our Privacy Notice and Terms of Use, which became effective December 20, 2019. Sign up or text "SCIENCE" to 662266. Sports fans made some of the best Bernie Sanders memes from inauguration day. Junior Seau, one of the NFL's best and fiercest players for nearly two decades, had a degenerative brain disease when he committed suicide last May, it has been revealed. Help protect workers from dangerous heat. By Sheilla Dingus. They’re the most dangerous invention the world has ever seen. Ideally the symptoms associated with CTE will be recognized while players are still alive. Dr. The US food system should be providing healthy, sustainable food for everyone. … Has the NFL Covered Up Concussion and Brain Injury Research? "We must hesitate before rejecting that bargain based on an unsupported hope that sending the parties back to the negotiating table would lead to a better deal.". By undermining concussion science for so many years and by harassing and marginalizing the scientists whose research added to our understanding of the dangers of concussions, the NFL clearly showed how powerful business entities can threaten independent science—a particularly chilling phenomenon when the independent research is specifically intended to protect lives. It wrote that the argument that all players diagnosed with CTE should be awarded, past and present, "misunderstands the role of the monetary award for CTE.". 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). Still, concussions remain a major problem for the league and for the sport at large. This is probably why … Former NFL player shares his struggle with traumatic brain injury Feb. 1, 201809:34 The NFL acknowledges that there is a link between CTE and playing football. She, too, faced challenges from doctors hired by the NFL. 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. © Union of Concerned Scientists The NFL Tried to Intimidate Scientists Studying the Link between Pro Football and Traumatic Brain Injury. NFL efforts to suppress scientific evidence of links between football and concussions not only put its own players at risk for memory loss, impulse control problems, and progressive dementia, but also put at risk the thousands of college athletes and more than one million youth athletes who play tackle football, many of whom were completely unaware of the risks. “I wish I never met Mike Webster,” Omalu says in the film. Learn more. The media coverage made CTE a paracrisis—a crisis risk that is managed in full view of the stakeholders. Terms and conditions. The headlines featured the risk—playing in the NFL leads to severe CTE. Tell President Biden: It is time for bold action on nuclear weapons. He was the whistle-blower.”, Omalu was not the only researcher the NFL attempted to undermine, however. 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. Msg & data rates may apply. 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. In affirming NFL concussion settlement, 3rd Circuit also pointed to the low number of objectors & opt-outs (pic.twitter.com/unooUzKXBM, It also seemed odd that the court approved of awards for players who have been diagnosed with CTE before the approval of the settlement, but not after. Note to Jerry Jones: Accept the Facts—There Is a Link between CTE, Football. The settlement has already been held up for nearly three years. Here's how. 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 … But the thing about CTE, in football or otherwise, is that can only be definitively diagnosed by after death. There was selection bias inherent in the study—many of the brains were donated because players’ families suspected CTE. Merrill Hoge retires due to concussions Citing the dangers of returning to football after sustaining several concussions, Chicago Bears fullback Merrill Hoge announces his … Even if the brains donated were the only brains in the entire NFL with CTE, this would give a low-estimation of about 15% of NFL players with CTE. The court noted that the 200 objectors were, relatively, a very small group. Are you reluctant to let your sons play football? But as the New York Times noted, even if you add in the brains of the 1,200 other NFL players who have died since the study began, and give each one a negative result for CTE, the prevalence of CTE would still be unusually high at almost nine percent. The first thing it did was study horse jockeys, not football players. 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. The report doesn't confirm that the condition is common in all football players; it reflects high occurrence in samples at the Boston brain bank that studies CTE. In fairness, so did the players to a large extent -- the vast majority did not raise any objections to the settlement. 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. The Hall of Famer was the first former NFL player diagnosed through autopsy with the brain disease known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE. In the case of players who died before the settlement, signs of CTE are thus a way to diagnose neurological problems they could have been compensated for while they were alive. We need to grow a resilient food system from the ground up. In 2012, the NFL donated $30 million to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for brain research. 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. Such a trend will have inevitable consequences for the NFL in the long term, and those consequences may already be occurring. Democracy and science can be powerful partners for the public good—and both are under attack. In the NFL, the frequency was higher still at 96 percent. The results were stunning. Almost a century after the Dust Bowl, the unsolved problem of soil erosion clouds the future of US agriculture. A blog on science, politics, and activism. The NFL can now acknowledge CTE without having to act or assume liability. Some detractors, just like NFL doctors in the past, continue to deny that I discovered and named CTE when I performed an autopsy on Webster. Instead, Neurosurgery published Omalu’s second paper, which found CTE in the brain of former Steelers offensive lineman Terry Long. The settlement should do a lot of good for a lot of people, but it's frustrating nonetheless that, by playing dumb, the NFL was able to win a significant concession. Tell Uber & Lyft to be part of a clean transportation future. Climate change is fueling wildfires. 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. The exact amount of trauma required for the condition to occur is unknown. Urge the Senate to require employers follow science-based protections for workers and their communities. 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. “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. No purchase necessary. 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. Other risk factors include being in the military, prior domestic violence, and repeated banging of the head. 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