In news that won't shock anyone who's heard Matt Millen on-air, a study commissioned by the NFL reports that instances of Alzheimer's disease, dementia, and/or other memory disorders appear to have been diagnosed more often in former professional football players than the general population.
Among men ages 30 through 49, it may be as high as 19 times more common, according to the New York Times.
(Yeah, that sounds about right.)
The results of the study validate the growing concern among health officials and players alike that the long-term affects from concussions or cumulative brain trauma aren't fully appreciated or prevented.
The notable bit is that the NFL, who have long denied a link and sought to discredit previous studies, have publicly acknowledged a connection for the first time. And now they may possibly institute new safety regulations that would filter down to younger players in high school and college.
The league did, however, provide a disclaimer tied in a legal-colored bow. NFL spokesman Greg Aiello noted that the study did not formally diagnose dementia and could not confirm players' reports of such diagnoses, was subject to the limitations of telephone surveys, and that “there are thousands of retired players who do not have memory problems.”
Maybe those players just forgot they had one: in addition to the high rate among 30-to-49-year-olds, the study found 6.1 percent of players aged 50 and above reported that they had received a dementia-related diagnosis, five times higher than the national average of 1.2 percent.
Sean Morey, a Cardinals wideout who's actually pledged his own brain to concussion research, praised the NFL for finally commissioning its own study after years of hedging. “This is about more than us," he said. "It’s about the high school kid in 2011 who might not die on the field because he ignored the risks of concussions.”
Now kids might only die on the field because of Eric Berry. Thanks, NFL. It's about time.
Janie Campbell is pretty sure hearing Mercury Morris talk about the '72 Dolphins would tell the NFL everything it needs to know about memory loss. Her work has appeared in irreverent sports sites around the Internet.