BOCA RATON — So what is the NFL’s official position on the link between football-related head trauma and the brain disease CTE?
On March 14, NFL VP Jeff Miller, testifying before congress, was asked by Jan Schakowsky, if there was a connection between football-related head injuries and CTE, and responded, “certainly yes.”
But at the NFL’s owners meetings in Boca Raton earlier this week, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones labeled making that link right now “absurd.”
“We don’t have that knowledge and background, and scientifically, so there’s no way in the world to say you have a relationship relative to anything here,” Jones said Tuesday. “There’s no research. There’s no data. We’re not disagreeing. We’re just basically saying the same thing. We’re doing a lot more [research].
“[Making the link] is absurd. There’s no data that in any way creates a knowledge. There’s no way that you could have made a comment that there is an association and some type of assertion. In most things, you have to back it up by studies. And in this particular case, we all know how medicine is. Medicine is evolving. I grew up being told that aspirin was not good. I’m told that one a day is good for you. I’m saying that changed over the years as we’ve had more research and knowledge.
“So we are very supportive of the research. We have for years been involved in trying to make it safer, safer as it pertains to head injury. We have millions of people that have played this game, have millions of people that are at various ages right now that have no issues at all. None at all. So that’s where we are. That didn’t alter at all what we’re doing about it. We’re gonna do everything we can to understand it better and make it safer.”
So on Wednesday, Newsday‘s Bob Glauber asked NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, at a press conference to wrap up the owners meetings, “There have been some conflicting remarks about CTE from the league. Miller at the round table [in Washington, DC] saying that he agrees that there is some linkage between football and CTE, and Jerry Jones last night saying ‘it’s too soon’, and I think he used the word ‘absurd’ to draw that definitive conclusion. Can you just say where the league stands on this issue, and whether you feel that there is some linkage between football and CTE?”
Goodell replied, “The most important thing for us is to support the medical and scientists to determine what those connections are. We think the statements that have been made through Jeff Miller and others have been consistent with our position over the years. We’ve actually funded those studies, so we’re not only aware of those, we recognize them and we support those studies. A lot of the research is still in its infancy, but we’re trying to find ways to accelerate that, and that’s part of what we’re doing in investing in additional research this week.
“But we’re also not waiting for the research,” he continued. “We’re going out and making the changes to our game. We’re making changes to our rules, which you’ve heard about today. We made changes in 2011 that affected the way we train our athletes. Several coaches and I had conversations today about how it’s changing the way they’re teaching the techniques that are used on the field and in training. All very positive changes. You’ve also seen a lot of the changes we’ve made in equipment, and there are more to come. There are changes to the fields, changes with helmets — some of you may have been able to see the tech lab today with the VICIS helmet out there.
“So there’s exciting technological changes that are going to make our game safer, and we’re advancing that, we’re driving that. And so our view is to try to continue to do that. We’ll support science and medicine and allow them to make those decisions, and try to see what we can do to support that and advance that.”