With the rising concern for player safety at an all-time high, there’s a new report that uncovers a disturbing trend.
According to a study by the Journal of the American Medical Association on Tuesday (as reported by the AP) which examined the brains of 202 deceased men who played football at various levels, 48 of the 53 that played college football were diagnosed postmortem with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).
For NFL players, the amount is staggering,with 110 of the 111 men studied diagnosed with CTE.
CTE is a degenerative disease found in people who have dealt with numerous blows to the head, especially in physical sports such as football. Currently, CTE is only diagnosable after death, yet there are experimental tests being conducted which may work on the living.
The lead author of the study believes there’s many variables to consider.
“There are many questions that remain unanswered,” said lead author Dr. Ann McKee, a Boston University neuroscientist. “How common is this” in the general population and all football players?
“How many years of football is too many?” and “What is the genetic risk? Some players do not have evidence of this disease despite long playing years,” she noted.
It’s also uncertain if some players’ lifestyle habits — alcohol, drugs, steroids, diet — might somehow contribute, McKee said.
Dr. Munro Cullum, a neuropsychologist at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, emphasized that the report is based on a selective sample of men who were not necessarily representative of all football players. He said problems other than CTE might explain some of their most common symptoms before death — depression, impulsivity and behavior changes. He was not involved in the report.
Former Alabama quarterback Ken Stabler is amongst the deceased players that donated their brains as part of the study.