Today’s health and safety news around football:
* Researchers at Boston University have discovered 28 new cases of chronic brain damage in deceased football players — including 15 who played in the NFL — more than doubling the number of documented cases connecting football to long-term brain disease. Players include two Hall of Famers: RB Ollie Matson and TE John Mackey, according to PBS.org and ESPN.com.
According to the study, the BU researchers now have 50 confirmed cases of former football players with CTE — 33 who played in the NFL, one in the CFL, one semi-professionally, nine through college and six who played only through high school. That included Nathan Stiles, 17, who died of a subdural hematoma after a hit in a 2010 high school homecoming game in Spring Hill, Kan. A Boston University study examined brain tissue from 85 people with a history of repetitive head trauma, including military veterans, boxers and football and hockey players. Sixty-eight were found to have chronic traumatic encephalopathy — a degenerative brain disorder linked to memory loss, depression and dementia. ”The sheer volume of cases I think is going to just overwhelm anybody that wants to be in denial about the existence of this problem,” said Robert C. Cantu, a co-director of BU’s Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy and a senior adviser to the NFL on concussions.
* In light of the Alex Smith benching after a concussion, USA Today looked at the quandary facing NFL players who may have to choose between their job and their health.
Julian Bailes, Chicago neurosurgeon and co-founder of the Brain Injury Research Institute, heard (Bill) Romanowski’s take. “We thought we were making progress on the change in the culture, and now the fact that this guy, Alex Smith, lost his job once again brings up the issue that the culture is still in question,” says Bailes.
* MD Mama, writing for the Boston Globe, suggested that it’s time to rethink the rules of football for the sake of safety.
* NCAA.org profiled the Ivy League and its limited-contact policy during football practices.
– Bill Bradley, contributing editor