dfwabel

Football and CTE

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Full Article (registration needed): http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2645104

 

Public Release: https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-07/tjnj-hpo072017.php

 

Release excerpt:

Quote

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) was diagnosed post-mortem in a high proportion of former football players whose brains were donated for research, including 110 of 111 National Football League players, according to a study published by JAMA.

CTE is a progressive neurodegeneration associated with repetitive head trauma and players of American football may be at increased risk of long-term neurological conditions, particularly CTE.

 

Ann C. McKee, M.D., of the Boston University CTE Center and VA Boston Healthcare System, and colleagues conducted a study that examined the brains of 202 deceased former football players to determine neuropathological features of CTE through laboratory examination and clinical symptoms of CTE by talking to players' next of kin to collect detailed histories including on head trauma, athletic participation and military service.

 

Among the 202 football players (median age at death was 66), CTE was neuropathologically diagnosed in 177 players (87 percent) who had had an average of 15 years of football participation. The 177 players included: 3 of 14 high school players (21 percent); 48 of 53 college players (91 percent); 9 of 14 semiprofessional players (64 percent); 7 of 8 Canadian Football League players (88 percent); and 110 of 111 NFL players (99 percent).

 

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33 minutes ago, dfwabel said:

Wow really wasn't expecting such high numbers. I new that there would be a significant amount especially in the NFL but I though skill position players could be less likely to have cte but it seems to only be a select few that are saved from this condition

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Wow.  We really should not be playing (and, by extension, watching) football.

 

I wonder who that 111th NFL player was.  A punter?

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BREAKING:  Football has always been and will always be dangerous, bad for your brain and body, and will aggressively age you due to repeated physical trauma.  

 

 

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3 minutes ago, CS85 said:

BREAKING:  Football has always been and will always be dangerous, bad for your brain and body, and will aggressively age you due to repeated physical trauma.

 

You can try to downplay this as old news, but that won't work.  Colleges and leagues have refused for years to acknowledge the specific harm done by the sport.  Just saying "oh, it's a tough game, derr!" downplays and minimizes the damage.

 

We've known for a long time that the game involved risk of physical injury, broken bones.  What's new is that there is a real risk of mental impairment on a scale never before understood, or even suspected.  We are now beginning to learn that even routine plays increase risk of brain damage and mental illness later in life.  And that even high school football carry this increased risk.

 

When leagues and colleges openly admit the risk inherent in every single play, then we can talk about informed consent.  But until then, we don't dare.

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Yeah, this is just one reason of many I don't watch football anymore. Amazing how a sport that was such an obsession to me as a kid means so little to me now. It's cannibalizing itself and now the thought of it dying off doesn't even bother me anymore.

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Parents of kids participating in football should be required to attend a brief seminar explaining the risks of football and sign a consent form/waiver before their kids can participate.  Kids 12 and up should also attend those seminars and be required to sign the paperwork.

 

Each progression, from NCAA to NFL, should have a mandated awareness session/course/etc to drastically inform participants of what they're getting mixed up in.  The players should also be required to sign contracts releasing the institutions from restitution.  

 

I wish these money-drunk oafs would stop trying to play the PR game and simply let it ride - football's danger is why we love it so much.  Embrace it.

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Oh God. I'll follow the NFL incidentally but my days of paying for merchandise, streaming, etc are over.

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At least now the NFL isn't trying to actively deny its existence, or lying to the players, or discrediting the research of reputable doctors and the players better know the long term risks, but yeah I'm almost fully checked out. 

 

The game needs to fundamentally change the way it's equipped and played if it wants to avoid going the way of horse racing or boxing and Paul Tagliabue and Roger Goodell set those changes back by at least a decade and a half. Change comes from the top and works its way down. 

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9 minutes ago, McCarthy said:

At least now the NFL isn't trying to actively deny its existence, or lying to the players, or discrediting the research of reputable doctors and the players better know the long term risks, but yeah I'm almost fully checked out. 

 

The game needs to fundamentally change the way it's equipped and played if it wants to avoid going the way of horse racing or boxing and Paul Tagliabue and Roger Goodell set those changes back by at least a decade and a half. Change comes from the top and works its way down. 

 

I concur that the game must change, even if it has to be turned in to flag football. That's why I want Goodell out.

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1 hour ago, McCarthy said:

At least now the NFL isn't trying to actively deny its existence, or lying to the players, or discrediting the research of reputable doctors and the players better know the long term risks, but yeah I'm almost fully checked out. 

 

The game needs to fundamentally change the way it's equipped and played if it wants to avoid going the way of horse racing or boxing and Paul Tagliabue and Roger Goodell set those changes back by at least a decade and a half. Change comes from the top and works its way down. 

This study is likely to be the factor in keeping Paul Tagliabue out of the Pro Football HOF.  Concussions were a big reasons why HOF voters, like Jim Trotter, publicly announced they would not vote for him. 

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5 minutes ago, dfwabel said:

This study is likely to be the factor in keeping Paul Tagliabue out of the Pro Football HOF.  Concussions were a big reasons why HOF voters, like Jim Trotter, publicly announced they would not vote for him. 

 

I don't think I would vote for him either.

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32 minutes ago, McCarthy said:

At least now the NFL isn't trying to actively deny its existence, or lying to the players, or discrediting the research of reputable doctors and the players better know the long term risks

 

Well, sort of.  They've made a few offhand comments when pressed, but that's not exactly the same thing as full transparency.

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1 hour ago, Gothamite said:

 

You can try to downplay this as old news, but that won't work.  Colleges and leagues have refused for years to acknowledge the specific harm done by the sport.  Just saying "oh, it's a tough game, derr!" downplays and minimizes the damage.

 

We've known for a long time that the game involved risk of physical injury, broken bones.  What's new is that there is a real risk of mental impairment on a scale never before understood, or even suspected.  We are now beginning to learn that even routine plays increase risk of brain damage and mental illness later in life.  And that even high school football carry this increased risk.

 

When leagues and colleges openly admit the risk inherent in every single play, then we can talk about informed consent.  But until then, we don't dare.

Yeah.  I remember my dad telling me in the 1980s that a lot of guys, RBs in particular, ended up limping the rest of their lives.  And during the one year I went out for football, I (and my parents) knew I could come out of it with a broken leg or something.

 

But this head thing is not only fairly new, but we have a long way to go toward understanding it.  And I'd argue that the potential impact on quality of life dwarfs that of the traditional musculoskeletal impairments we associate with football.

 

The other thing is that I'm not sure we are anywhere near the point where we can assert that significant head trauma is unlikely simply from playing from Pop Warner through high school.  Therefore, kids may be able to reach the point of no return before they are old enough to make key decisions like tobacco use, etc. At least under the blissful ignorance of the past, a young adult could probably say "I'm not going to quit before college because I want to be able to walk when I'm 40" and probably not have long-term problems.  Do we know that's the case for this kind of injury.

 

The days of blissful ignorance carried risks, no doubt.   But they were much easier to quantify and understand.  And, frankly, much more difficult to downplay and cover up.

 

Can we ever get to a time when football:

  • Has risks that are totally understandable and only able to be taken by adults?
  • Is appreciably safer than it is right now?
  • And is one or both of these things without significantly changing the game?

I don't think so.  Regarding the risks, more honesty and transparency from the NFL, colleges, and the "football community" in general would be of value so parents making these key decisions on their kids' behalf are at least informed.  Regarding safety...I tend to doubt any significant mitigation can occur.  Better equipment, at best, is negligible (and seems to provide a false sense of security).  Targeting rules, etc.?  Maybe a little.  About the best thing I can think of is maybe cracking down hard core on PEDs...so we don't have the combo of size and speed causing more violent hits than in the old days, but again I suspect that would be a minor improvement.  

"Better equipment" seems to be a marketing and R&D exercise in perpetuating denial.  In fact the only thing I've ever heard that makes sense is getting rid of helmets.  That would, of course, change the game. How much would it help?  Who knows?  

 

One thing I'd love to see is CTE comparisons between the NFL and Rugby or Aussie Rules, where they wear far less padding.

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Fantastic response.  Lots to unpack.

 

9 minutes ago, OnWis97 said:

Yeah.  I remember my dad telling me in the 1980s that a lot of guys, RBs in particular, ended up limping the rest of their lives.  And during the one year I went out for football, I (and my parents) knew I could come out of it with a broken leg or something.

 

But this head thing is not only fairly new, but we have a long way to go toward understanding it.  And I'd argue that the potential impact on quality of life dwarfs that of the traditional musculoskeletal impairments we associate with football.

 

The other thing is that I'm not sure we are anywhere near the point where we can assert that significant head trauma is unlikely simply from playing from Pop Warner through high school.  Therefore kids may be able to reach the point of no return before they are old enough to make key decisions like tobacco use, etc. At least under the blissful ignorance of the past, a kid could probably say "I'm not going to quit before college because I want to be able to walk when I'm 40" and probably not have long-term problems.  Do we know that's the case for this kind of injury.

 

CTE has been found in the brains of men who never played a down after high school.  The evidence indicates that the damage is done long before they have the ability to consent to the risk.

 

9 minutes ago, OnWis97 said:

The days of blissful ignorance carried risks, no doubt.   But they were much easier to quantify and understand.  And, frankly, much more difficult to downplay and cover up.

 

Can we ever get to a time when football:

  • Has risks that are totally understandable and only able to be taken by adults?
  • Is appreciably safer than it is right now?
  • And is one or both of these things without significantly changing the game?

I don't think so.  Regarding the risks, more honesty and transparency from the NFL, colleges, and the "football community" in general would be of value so parents making these key decisions on their kids' behalf are at least informed.  Regarding safety...I tend to doubt any significant mitigation can occur.  Better equipment, at best, is negligible (and seems to provide a false sense of security).  Targeting rules, etc.?  Maybe a little.  About the best thing I can think of is maybe cracking down hard core on PEDs...so we don't have the combo of size and speed causing more violent hits than in the old days, but again I suspect that's of minor improvement.  

 

That would also be a positive step.   There are small things we can right now like ban the three-point stance.  Reduce some of those impacts at the line.

 

9 minutes ago, OnWis97 said:

"Better equipment" seems to be a marketing and R&D exercise in perpetuating denial.  In fact the only thing I've ever heard that makes sense is getting rid of helmets.  That would, of course, change the game. How much would it help?  Who knows?  

 

This, this, a thousand times this.

 

The problem is the very existence of head impacts, not necessarily the severity.  We can't science our way out of this problem.   The game itself will have to evolve, or be forced to evolve.  Players now can pass off the consequences of their actions years down the line.  If we removed the helmets, lessened the pads and forced them to feel the actual impact of the hits, they wouldn't make them in the same way.

 

9 minutes ago, OnWis97 said:

One thing I'd love to see is CTE comparisons between the NFL and Rugby or Aussie Rules, where they wear far less padding.

 

Me, too.  I know soccer has been touched by it, which is why they've already started on rule changes for youth leagues, changes which I hope continue all the way up to the highest levels of the professional game.

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2 minutes ago, Gothamite said:

The problem is the very existence of head impacts, not necessarily the severity.  We can't science our way out of this problem.   The game itself will have to evolve, or be forced to evolve.

 

I think a big mis-step and misunderstanding in this discussion the "big impact" and "concussion" element.  Or maybe it's more of a deflection than a misunderstanding.  But, yeah, if I am part of a hugely violent hit and get up dazed, sure that's far worse than than a single "minor" impact.  But this seems to be more of a cumulative thing and it's probably the run-of-the-mill impacts that are really adding up and taking their toll.  As some people pointed out Junior Seau did not have a history of head injuries.

 

Me, too.  I know soccer has been touched by it, which is why they've already started on rule changes for youth leagues, changes which I hope continue all the way up to the highest levels of the professional game.

Football's certainly not the only game with this issue.  But it might be the worst.

 

I think kids can still enjoy soccer without heading the ball.  I am not exactly sure when it should be allowed and I know if big-time soccer were to not allow it, that would be a key change.  Hockey will probably always carry a risk (though not as high as football).  I think I'd actually prefer hockey with a little less contact, myself.  And youth hockey tends to tone down the contact.  

 

I'm not into hand-to-hand combat (boxing, MMA).  Obviously getting punched in the head is a huge risk.  But my guess is the the number of games/practices in football lends that sport to being riskier than boxing or MMA.

 

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13 minutes ago, OnWis97 said:

I think a big mis-step and misunderstanding in this discussion the "big impact" and "concussion" element.  Or maybe it's more of a deflection than a misunderstanding.  But, yeah, if I am part of a hugely violent hit and get up dazed, sure that's far worse than than a single "minor" impact.  But this seems to be more of a cumulative thing and it's probably the run-of-the-mill impacts that are really adding up and taking their toll.  As some people pointed out Junior Seau did not have a history of head injuries.

 

That's the insidious thing about CTE - it's not about the big hits players feel.  It's the small sub-concussive impacts, the ones they don't even notice.  That's why I'm so steadfastly opposed to new helmet technologies, technologies which will just increase their false sense of security.

 

The league would love this to be about concussions.  Concussions are something that they think they can control.  But the relatively minor impacts that happen on every down of every game?  Those are the real existential danger to players and to the sport, and will involve much harder choices to combat.  Talking about concussions allows the league to preserve its pretense.  Whenever anybody mentions concussions, you know that they're trying to change the subject.

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22 minutes ago, Gothamite said:

 

That's the insidious thing about CTE - it's not about the big hits players feel.  It's the small sub-concussive impacts, the ones they don't even notice.  That's why I'm so steadfastly opposed to new helmet technologies, technologies which will just increase their false sense of security.

 

The league would love this to be about concussions.  Concussions are something that they think they can control.  But the relatively minor impacts that happen on every down of every game?  Those are the real existential danger to players and to the sport, and will involve much harder choices to combat.  Talking about concussions allows the league to preserve its pretense.  Whenever anybody mentions concussions, you know that they're trying to change the subject.

Some of them. I do believe others are just behind the curve (and some of that was made possible by those that are trying to change the subject).

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Welp. Enjoy college football and the NFL while you can, guys, because it won't be around for much longer.

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Disclaimer disclaimer this is not a random sample, but yeah this is pretty bad. I wonder what the impact would be if they ever develop a test that can be done while the player is still alive? 

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