This page will provide excerpts, videos, pictures, press releases; statements made by the NFL and its employees; medical researchers’ conclusions; and allegations made by the plaintiffs.
Excerpt from a 2006 Publication in Neurological Focus written by the NFL’s Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Committee
The authors analyzed collected “data on mild TBIs sustained between 1996 and 2001″ and concluded that:
[B]ecause a significant percentage of players returned to play in the same game [as they suffered a mild traumatic brain injury] and the overwhelming majority of players with concussions were kept out of football-related activities for less than 1 week, it can be concluded that mild TBIs in professional football are not serious injuries.
Dr. Bennet Omalu’s, Co-Director of the Brain Injury Institute at West Virginia University, Statement on the History of Concussions
In 1912, Pop Warner said: Playing without helmets gives players more confidence, saves their heads from many hard jolts, and keeps their ears from becoming torn or sore. I do not encourage their use. I have never seen an accident to the head which was serious, but I have many times seen cases when hard bumps on the head so dazed the player receiving them that he lost his memory for a time and had to be removed from the game.”
We have known about concussions and the effects of concussions in football for over a century. Every blow to the head is dangerous. Repeated concussions and sub- concussions both have the capacity to cause permanent brain damage. During practice and during games, a single player can sustain close to one thousand or more hits to the head in only one season without any documented or reported incapacitating concussion. Such repeated blows over several years, no doubt, can result in permanent impairment of brain functioning especially in a child.
Dr. Barry Jordan, Director of the Brain Injury Program at Burke Rehabilitation Hospital in White Plains, New York, surveyed 1,094 former NFL players between the ages of 27 and 86, finding:
(a) more than 61 % had suffered at least one concussion in their careers with 30 % of the players having three or more and 15 % having five or more; (b) 51% had been knocked unconscious more than once; (c) 73 % of those injured said they were not required to sit on the sidelines after their head trauma; (d) 49 % of the former players had numbness or tingling; 28 % had neck or cervical spine arthritis; 31 % had difficulty with memory; 16 % were unable to dress themselves; and 11 % were unable to feed themselves; and (e) eight suffered from Alzheimer’s disease.
A Series of University of North Carolina Studies by Dr. Kevin Guskiewicz
The study, published in the September-October issue of the American Journal of Sports Medicine, suggests that the brain is more susceptible to injury when it has not had enough time to recover from a first injury. Researchers say the finding is important because concussions can lead to permanent brain damage, vision impairment or even death if not managed properly.
“We believe recurrences are more likely because injured players are returning to practice and to games too quickly after blows to the head,” said Dr. Kevin M. Guskiewicz, assistant professor of exercise and sport science at UNC-CH and study leader. “Many clinicians are not following the medical guidelines that players should be symptom-free for several days before returning.”
UNC analyzed data from almost 2,500 retired NFL players and found that 263 of the retired players suffered from depression. The study found that having three or four concussions meant twice the risk of depression as never-concussed players and five or more concussions meant a nearly threefold risk.
The NFL’s Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Committee’s Response
Dr. Casson’s comments on HBO Real Sports.
Boston University School of Medicine’s Center for Traumatic Encephalopathy Examination of Mike Webster, Terry Long and Andre Waters’ Brain
In articles published in Neurosurgery in 2005 and 2006, Omalu found that Webster’s and Long’s respective deaths were partially caused by CTE, related to multiple NFL concussions suffered during their professional playing years. Cantu reached a similar conclusion as to Waters in an article published in Neurosurgery in 2007.
The following photographs, available from Brain-Pad Blog, show the contrast between a normal brain (depicted on the left) and Webster’s autopsied brain (depicted on the right):
Excerpt from a 2007 NFL Press Release Issued to All Teams
Current research with professional athletes has not shown that having more than one or two concussions leads to permanent problems…. It is important to understand that there is no magic number for how many concussions is too many.
September 10, 2009, University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research Study
The study found that retired NFL players are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or similar medical conditions far more often than the national population—including a rate of 19 times the normal incidence for men aged 30 through 49.
NFL’s response, as reported by a 2009 New York Time’s article
An N.F.L. spokesman, Greg Aiello, said in an e-mail message that the study did not formally diagnose dementia, that it was subject to shortcomings of telephone surveys and that “there are thousands of retired players who do not have memory problems.” “Memory disorders affect many people who never played football or other sports,” Mr. Aiello said. “We are trying to understand it as it relates to our retired players.”
Dr. Ira Casson, a co-chairman of the concussions committee who has been the league’s primary voice denying any evidence connecting N.F.L. football and dementia, said: “What I take from this report is there’s a need for further studies to see whether or not this finding is going to pan out, if it’s really there or not. I can see that the respondents believe they have been diagnosed. But the next step is to determine whether that is so.”
2009 Congressional Hearing “Legal Issues Relating to Football Head Injuries”
Congresswoman Linda Sanchez’s infamous foreshadowing of the concussion lawsuits: YouTube
The NFL’s subsequent remedial measure following the Congressional Hearings
December 2, 2009, NFL Press Release: Goodell’s Return to Play Memo to Teams
December 20, 2009, New York Time’s excerpt:
After weeks of transforming its approach to concussions and its research into their long-term effects among players, the N.F.L. not only announced Sunday that it would support research by its most vocal critics but also conceded publicly for the first time that concussions can have lasting consequences. “It’s quite obvious from the medical research that’s been done that concussions can lead to long-term problems,” the league spokesman Greg Aiello said in a telephone interview. He was discussing how the league could donate $1 million or more to the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy at Boston University, whose discoveries of brain damage commonly associated with boxers in the brains of deceased football players were regularly discredited by the N.F.L.
June 10, 2010, NFL Brochure. Lawyers involved in the lawsuits are advising that this may be the date in which the Statute of Limitation’s clock started ticking. In other words, a putative plaintiff has until June 2012 to file suit; otherwise his claim may be forever barred.
Greg Aiello’s comments regarding the concussion lawsuits:
“The NFL has long made player safety a priority and continues to do so,” league spokesman Greg Aiello told the Herald. “Any allegation that the NFL intentionally sought to mislead players has no merit. It stands in contrast to the league’s actions to better protect players and advance the science and medical understanding of the management and treatment of concussions.”
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