NFL commissioner Roger Goodell walks the sidelines before Super Bowl 50 at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California on February 7, 2016. Photo by Brian Kersey/UPI | License Photo
A top NFL official acknowledged for the first time that a link exists between head trauma caused by playing football and chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, multiple media outlets reported Monday.
Jeff Miller, the NFL's senior vice president for health and safety, admitted on Monday such a link exists while participating in a discussion on concussions that was organized by the U.S. House of Representatives' Committee on Energy and Commerce.
When asked by Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., if a link between participation in football and neurodegenerative diseases such as CTE has been established, Miller said, "The answer to that question is certainly yes."
According to ESPN, it is the first time that senior NFL official has publicly admitted that such a link exists.
Miller said his opinion is based on research performed by Dr. Ann McKee, a Boston University neuropathologist. She diagnosed CTE in the brains of 176 people, including the brains of 90 of 94 former NFL players.
Miller said information is still limited regarding how prevalent CTE is and the risk of suffering from it.
"I think the broader point, and the one that your question gets to, is what that necessarily means, and where do we go from here with that information," Miller said.
There have been previous reports that the NFL admitted a link between CTE and football. An NFL spokesman told the New York Times in 2009 that it is "quite obvious from the medical research that's been done that concussions can lead to long-term problems."
However, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and other senior NFL officials never took a definitive stand on the league's opinion on the issue.
Earlier this year, neurosurgeon Mitch Berger, who heads the NFL's subcommittee on long-term brain injury, claimed no link between football and CTE had been established.
With that report in mind, Schakowsky said, according to an ESPN report, "The NFL is peddling a false sense of security. Football is a high-risk sport because of the routine hits, not just diagnosable concussions. What the American public need now is honesty about the health risks and clearly more research."
When she asked McKee whether a connection had been established, McKee said, "I unequivocally think there's a link between playing football and CTE. We've seen it in 90 out of 94 NFL players whose brains we've examined, we've found it in 45 out of 55 college players and six out of 26 high school players. No, I don't think this represents how common this disease is in the living population, but the fact that over five years I've been able to accumulate this number of cases in football players, it cannot be rare. In fact, I think we are going to be surprised at how common it is."
When Schakowsky asked Miller whether there is a link, yes or no, he said, "Yes, sure."