In a total change of tone and with a stunning level of admittance, NFL spokesman Jeff Miller recently opened up to members of the House in Washington, commenting on possible (and frankly probable) correlations between concussions in football and the development of deadly brain complications. Such diseases most notoriously include encephalopathy, or E.C.T., a disorder which has contributed to the deaths of players such as Steelers player Mike Webster, or 27-year-old former Giants player Tyler Sash, whose death was linked to E.C.T. in January postmortem.
Due to a substantial number of cases like Sash’s emerging in recent years, the NFL has come under heavy condemnation for their staunch denial of any knowledge regarding risks to player safety with Traumatic Brain Injuries in the sport, with entire PBS Frontline specials focused on the issue and numerous lawsuits taking place. It seems that given their history of refutations, this public acknowledgment and acceptance of such a link between TBIs/ E.C.T. and NFL participation may indeed elicit significant changes for the league, though how far they need to go is still largely uncertain since there is not a vast body of research yet available on the long-term effects of football on brain injury. “League players subjected [even] to repeated mild traumatic brain injury”, however, have been seen to develop E.C.T. so I would not be surprised should the sport have to face major revisions for safety. Regardless of what changes may or may not take place, it is encouraging that at the very least the NFL is finally starting to come to terms with the facts and hopefully can move forward toward positive solutions.