A study conducted by the National Institutes of Health on the relationship between football and brain disease will move forward without a $30 million research grant from the NFL.
ESPN's "Outside the Lines" reported Tuesday that the NFL grant in 2012 was to be used for the seven-year, $16 million project. However, the league backed out of that study when the NIH awarded the project to a group led by a prominent Boston University researcher who has been outspoken against the league.
"Outside the Lines" cited sources in saying the NFL reversed its previous position that the funds could be used for research with no strings attached. ESPN quoted NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy as saying the NIH made "its own funding decisions."
The NIH announced in a press released Tuesday that the project would go forward and the ultimate goal remains the ability to diagnose chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in living patients.
Posthumous studies of the brain in former NFL players, including prominent suicide victims Junior Seau and Dave Duerson, were found to be impacted by CTE.
Robert Stern, a professor of neurology and neurosurgery at Boston University, is the lead researcher. Vocal is only the beginning of his position on the NFL and head injuries. He wrote that commissioner Roger Goodell inherited a concussion cover-up from Paul Tagliabue and when a concussion settlement was first announced, Stern filed a 61-page letter of opposition. In that declaration, he said he opposed leaving out the many players who were or would be disabled by CTE.
ESPN reportedly had concerns over Stern's objectivity, but in the same report Tuesday said that Stern had cleared a vetting process and "scientific merit review" plus another evaluation by a dozen high-level experts assembled by the NIH.