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Top NFL official sort of admits there's a link between football and CTE

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First: NFL Admits Link Between Football And Brain Disease

For obvious reasons, the NFL has never been keen on admitting there's a link between football injuries and CTE, a degenerative brain disease that disproportionately affects football players. Even when the league professed its commitment to researching the connection, officials at the National Institute of Health were skeptical of its true motivation. However, in a congressional hearing on CTE that took place in Washington, D.C. this afternoon, Jeff Miller, the NFL's executive vice president of health and safety policy, said there is "certainly" a link between football and brain disorders such as CTE — he's the first high-ranking NFL official to say so outright.

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During the hearing, Representative Jan Schakowsky directly asked both Miller and Ann McKee, director of the neuropathology core at Boston University's Alzheimer's Disease Center, about the connection. (In the video above, her comments begin at the 1:24:00 mark.) "I want to ask what I think is a yes or no question," she said. "Do you think there is a link between football and brain disorders like CTE?" McKee replied that she "unequivocally" thinks there's a link and goes on to site the extremely high proportion of CTE cases in professional, college, and high school football players. "The fact that over five years I've been able to accumulate this number of cases in football players — it cannot be rare," she said. "In fact, I think we're going to be surprised at how common it is."

See prominent cases of NFL players with CTE:

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Prominent cases of NFL players with CTE
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Top NFL official sort of admits there's a link between football and CTE
PITTSBURGH, PA - CIRCA 1987: Mike Webster #52 of Pittsburgh Steelers looks on during a game circa 1987 at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Webster played for the Steelers from 1974-88. (Photo by George Gojkovich/Sporting News via Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - NOVEMBER 19: Quarterback Earl Morrall #15 of the Miami Dolphins looks on from the sidelines against the New York Jets during an NFL football game at The Orange Bowl November 19, 1972 in Miami, Florida. Morrall played for the Dolphins from 1972-76. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
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Then it's Miller's turn. "The answer to that question is certainly yes," he said. "But there's also a number of questions that come with that." Schakowsky presses him: "That was not the unequivocal answer three days before the Super Bowl by Dr. Mitchel Berger" (a member of the NFL's Head, Neck and Spine Committee who outright denied the link at a press conference February 4). Miller avoids answering the question directly a second time, instead saying that McKee's research indicates a link, but his admission is a step forward for a league that's historically refused to face such data.

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