SBD/September 6, 2012/NFL Season Preview

NFL Provides $30M Grant To Fund National Institutes Of Health Brain-Injury Study

NFL providing $30M grant to help fund brain-injury study
The NFL has provided a $30M grant "to study brain injuries and other sports-related health issues," according to Matthew Futterman of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. National Institute of Neurological Disorders & Stroke Dir Story Landis said that the grant "came with no strings attached” and that the institute "hasn't figured out exactly how to use it.” She added that she has participated in “a series of talks with the NFL about how the money will be used and that funding will be available to study joint diseases and sudden cardiac deaths." The funding was secured last Saturday. Landis said that “the institute's mandate is to think more broadly” than just about how football "affects the brains of the sliver of the population that plays it, suffers concussions and might be at risk for the long-term effects of what the medical community refers to as mild traumatic brain injury.” Futterman reports one question is the "extent to which scientists will be able to study current NFL players, including those who have recently suffered concussions, using state-of-the-art imaging technology.” Landis said that such a study “could prove worthwhile.” But players "may be resistant to allowing extensive studies of their brains for fear that the results might one day be used against them during contract negotiations” (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 9/6). NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said, “Our goal is to aggressively partner with the best scientists to understand more about the brain and brain injuries, to make things safer for our athletes and for others.” Goodell said that “discussions with NIH representatives have been taking place for at least six months” (WASHINGTON POST, 9/6). NFL VP/Business Ventures Eric Grubman said the $30M donation was the “right thing to do.” Grubman: “This is just another example, and it’s a really important one, that says we’re in a position of leadership. People look to us to lead" (“Mad Money,” CNBC, 9/5).

OCCUPATIONAL HAZARD: USA TODAY’s Mihoces & Lloyd note a report by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) concluded former NFL players “are far more likely to die from brain disease than the general public.” The study found that "ex-players were three or four times more likely to die from brain diseases.” The report was “based on new analysis of a 1994 NIOSH study involving 3,439 players who spent at least five seasons in the NFL" from '59-88 (USA TODAY, 9/6). The study is “the most extensive survey of former athletes since concern about the long-term consequences of repeated blows to the head has become a major safety issue among NFL players” (AP, 9/5). N.Y. Daily News columnist Mike Lupica said this study will have a “profound” impact on the sport, as it is the “single greatest health crisis in American sports." Lupica: “This is like a sport that’s taking a cumulative amount of hits to the head and it’s going to suffer over time” (“Today,” NBC, 9/6).

SHAKE IT OFF: In DC, Maese & Clement in a front-page piece yesterday reported a Washington Post poll “suggests that football remains by far the country’s most popular sport” and that “the game’s inherent violence is as much of an appeal as it is a liability.” In the poll, 44% of fans "say their interest in pro football is on the rise, while 32 percent report a drop-off." More than one in three of Americans polled said that football is “their favorite to watch -- nearly three times as popular as baseball, which finished second.” While nearly six in 10 Americans say that they are “concerned about the number of injuries in professional football," just 20% are "‘very concerned,’ with just as many expressing no concern at all” (WASHINGTON POST, 9/5).
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