NFL’s response to Nowinski

Feb 5, 2016 - by Steve Gerweck

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The head of the Boston University affiliated brain bank that has discovered the disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE )in over a 100 deceased NFL players blasted the league for allegedly obfuscating on the link between repetitive blows to the head and the disease. Chris Nowinski made his charges inside the press conference room at the Super Bowl media center where the NFL had just briefed reporters on the efforts the league was making to fund concussion diagnosis and prevention technologies. Afterward, Dr. Mitch Berger, who spoke on the panel and is on the league’s Head Neck and spine committee , cast some doubt on the link between CTE and head trauma. Berger mentioned not enough is known about genetic links to CTE.

“The science is just not there yet,” he said. Nowinski, who was listening on the outer ring of reporters, visibly shook his head and smirked at Berger’s remarks.

Nowinski remains livid over the NFL declining to fund his peer’s Dr. Robert Stern’s research into finding a test for CTE in the living. The National Institute of Health, which the NFL had pledged to fund with, instead found the money for the BU professor’s study.

“Their attempt to prevent that study from being funded is frankly a slap in the face to every family suffering from CTE right now,” said Nowinski, who then compared the NFL to the tobacco industry.

Nowinski said the league has an issue with CTE, not concussions. CTE is tied to many years of playing football and being exposed to head trauma, not concussions, he said, calling on a ban on youth football tackling until teenage years.

“I am a firm believer that no one should be playing tackle football before high school, ” he said. “The NFL is strongly funding and underwriting youth football in this country, through USA football, through the heads up football, through the mom marketing program, and commissioner Goodell going and teaching tackling to mothers…that is like big tobacco teaching kids how to smoke.”


NFL response to Nowinski

We have ‎probably given more money to BU than anyone else, either directly, through money we gave to the NIH, or by supporting other grant applications. Far from trying to block a study, we offered to contribute to the funding. We promote all kinds of youth football — flag and tackle – as well as general youth physical fitness no matter the sport or activity. Medical studies and leading medical groups do not support a ban on young people participating in contact sports.

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