NFL owner on CTE study: 'If I had a son, I'd have him playing football today'

Alex Butler

July 27 (UPI) -- Stephen Ross had some candid remarks at Miami Dolphins training camp regarding the a study which found CTE in 99 percent of deceased NFL players' brains.

But, despite not having a son, Ross said if he did have one he would be playing football.


"We do everything as a team and as a league to really make sure we're looking at all the different issues," the Dolphins owner said Wednesday after the first day of training camp in Davie, Fla. "We're all concerned about it. There's a tremendous amount of research that's going into it and things to make it better."

"As close as I am, I know if I had a son, I'd have him playing football today. Yes, these are things of concern; but I know so much attention, time and money and everybody's efforts is looking to really make sure the sport is safer. They've done many, many rule changes over the last number of years to do that. I think we'll just keep doing that until we really find a solution."

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The study was published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). It found chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a progressive, degenerative brain disease, in nearly all of the brains it studied from former NFL players. The study also found CTE in 91 percent of college football players and 21 percent of high school football players.


Ross pointed toward the league maintaining its popularity, but said that owners are "just sitting back" and ignoring areas in need of improvement.

"I think if you look at...I think the way people look at football today, I think it's as popular as it has probably ever been, and I think it'll continue to be that way," Ross said. "I think the things that we do are forward thinking. We're not just sitting back as a league - certainly we not as a team - and saying, 'Hey, everything is great,' and not realize that there are issues, and you've got to make them better. I think that's what we're all - in this business - and I think every owner in the league feels the same way."

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Canton is looking to take care of the pioneers who built the sport.

Pro Football Hall of Fame President David Baker told UPI Wednesday that Canton aims "to protect the game by making it safer."

The Hall is planning many additions, including a Player Care Center. The center features a wide range of health services, including: a football themed 143-bed independent living, assisted living and memory care active senior care facility.. The current design for the center includes a 15-bed surgical hospital, 20-bed behavioral science and addiction center, and a possible memorial.

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The NFL has implemented many rule changes over the years to protect its current stars.

After the study came out, the NFL pointed toward its 2016 funding. Last year, the league pledged $100 million in support for independent medical research and engineering advancements in neuroscience related topics. The NFL and its partners were "already spending" $100 million on medical and neuroscience research, according to a league statement.

Ross also commented on former Dolphins players dealing with cognitive issues, including Jim Kiick. The former two-time Pro Bowler and Super Bowl champion was diagnosed with dementia/early-onset Alzheimer's and is suspected to have CTE. A definitive diagnosis of CTE can only be confirmed after death.

"I was very saddened to know about that," Ross said of Kiick. "You've read that it's not just Miami Dolphins; it's across the league [that] there have been players. At the same time, many great players that are still around that have suffered nothing and you see them have full, healthy lives. But you hate to see any one person really suffer."

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