WASHINGTON – An NFL official has acknowledged a link between football and the brain disease CTE for the first time.
Jeff Miller, the NFL’s senior vice president for health and safety, spoke about the connection during an appearance Monday at a congressional committee’s roundtable discussion about concussions.
Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Illinois) asked Miller: “Do you think there is a link between football and degenerative brain disorders like CTE?”
Miller began by referencing the work of Boston University neuropathologist Dr. Ann McKee, who has found CTE in the brains of 90 former pro football players.
“Well, certainly, Dr. McKee’s research shows that a number of retired NFL players were diagnosed with CTE, so the answer to that question is certainly ‘yes,’ but there are also a number of questions that come with that,” Miller said.
Schakowsky repeated the question: “Is there a link?”
“Yes. Sure,” Miller responded.
The NFL has not previously linked playing football to chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a disease linked to repeated brain trauma and associated with symptoms such as memory loss, depression and progressive dementia. It can only be detected after death. Among the players found to have CTE in their brains were Hall of Famers Junior Seau and Ken Stabler.
During Super Bowl week, Dr. Mitch Berger, a member of the NFL’s head, neck and spine committee, would not draw a direct line from football to CTE.
Miller appeared at a roundtable discussion of concussions before the House Committee on Energy & Commerce. ESPN first reported Miller’s appearance before the committee.