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CTE and the NFL: More Obstruction


In my post on chronic traumatic encephalopathy and the National Football League, I neglected to mention that the NFL is still practicing its obstruction despite making moves that publicly appear to be supporting research on the diagnosis of CTE.

This article in Outside the Lines from December 22 tells how the NFL has exerted control against the National Institutes of Health (NIH) over its “unrestricted” $30 million grant to the NIH for CTE research.  The NFL has refused to fund a study that will be conducted by Dr. Robert Stern of Boston University (BU).

The NFL has failed to show any transparency over this restriction of an “unrestricted” grant but it is clear that they have an animus against Dr. Stern, perhaps because of his prior actions.

For example, Dr. Stern filed a 61-page objection to the proposed settlement of the player’s suit against the NFL over CTE in October 2014.  More painfully, his conversations with a star player, Chris Borland, settled Mr. Borland’s decision to retire after his rookie year.  Mr. Borland stated that he feared that he might already have brain damage and he did not wish to make matters worse.  Dr. Stern could not tell Mr. Borland that he did not already have brain damage.

The study will continue with NIH money that doesn’t come from the NFL, and it is a very important study, because it will attempt to find a way to diagnose CTE in living patients.  The NFL’s behavior in directing its funding away from a pivotal study is easy to diagnose as avoidance, especially given its prior bad behavior and attempts to silence the original doctor who started the furor over CTE.

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