Timeline: The NFL’s Concussion Crisis

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What did the NFL know and when did it know it? To help answer that question we’ve created a dual chronology, with growing scientific concern about the link between football and brain disease on the left-hand column, and the NFL’s public statements on the right. Click on a year to learn more.

1994

 

1994

NFL creates MTBI Committee

NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue creates the Mild Traumatic Brain Injury committee, and appoints New York Jets team doctor and rheumatologist Dr. Elliot Pellman as chair, despite lacking any previous experience in brain science.

When asked about the issue of concussions in 1994, Pellman tells Newsday:

“‘We discuss it on the list of things every time we have a league meeting … We think the issue of knees, of drugs and steroids and drinking is a far greater problem, according to the number of incidents.”

Pellman also tells Sports Illustrated that “concussions are part of the profession, an occupational risk.”

January 1994

Troy Aikman’s concussion

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman takes a knee to the head during the 1993 season NFC Championship game, landing him in the hospital that night.

Aikman later tells the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that he can’t remember the game:

“I didn’t know what planet I was on. I still to this day have no recollection of ever having played in that game. So whenever I see footage of that game, it’s like somebody else is out there doing it.”

Aikman’s agent, Leigh Steinberg, visited him in the hospital that night and recalled the story to FRONTLINE.

 

October 1994

Merrill Hoge retires due to concussions

Citing the dangers of returning to football after sustaining several concussions, Chicago Bears fullback Merrill Hoge announces his retirement from the NFL. Two weeks earlier, he had taken a knee to the head, leaving him briefly unable to recognize his wife or brother.

Hoge tells Sports News: “This is messing with your brain.”

 
 

December 1994

Commissioner Tagliabue dismisses the concussion problem

NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue describes concussions as a “pack journalism issue” during a panel on the future of sports:

“On concussions, I think is one of these pack journalism issues, frankly… There is no increase in concussions, the number is relatively small… The problem is a journalist issue. “


1995

February 1995

Leigh Steinberg sounds a warning

With growing concern for the health of his clients, Leigh Steinberg, agent to star quarterbacks Troy Aikman and Steve Young, holds a seminar on the effects of concussions in Newport Beach, Calif. Players listen to a panel of medical experts describe the symptoms and dangers of concussions.

San Diego Charger Gary Plummer tells The Press Enterprise: “By their standards, I must’ve had 200 concussions.”

 


1997

March 1997

New return-to-play guidelines

The guidelines from the American Academy of Neurology say that repetitive concussions can cause brain damage, and suggest that players be removed from the game if they lose consciousness or exhibit any concussion symptoms 15 minutes post-injury.

“Repeated concussions can cause cumulative brain injury in an individual over months or years,” the report warns.

 


1999

April 1999

Mike Webster claims football gave him dementia

After years of struggling with cognitive problems, Mike Webster files a disability application with the NFL Retirement Board, claiming his NFL football career caused him to have dementia.

 

September 1999

Steve Young knocked out cold

49ers quarterback Steve Young is knocked out for 30 seconds during a game against the Arizona Cardinals. It would be Young’s last NFL game.

 
 

October 1999

NFL Retirement Board rules Mike Webster permanently disabled

The NFL Retirement Board rules that Mike Webster’s head injuries from his years playing for the Pittsburgh Steelers and Kansas City Chiefs left him “totally and permanently” disabled as “the result of head injuries he suffered as a football player.” The ruling isn’t made public until it’s uncovered by FRONTLINE/ESPN reporters Steve Fainaru and Mark Fainaru-Wada.

Webster’s attorney, Bob Fitzsimmons, says the ruling shows that the league should’ve known there was a link between football and brain damage.

“It’s pretty devastating evidence,” he said. “If the NFL takes the position that they didn’t know or weren’t armed with evidence that concussions can cause total disability — permanent disability, permanent brain injury — in 1999, that evidence trumps anything they say.”

 

December 1999

MTBI chair says serious brain injuries are a rarity in the NFL

Dr. Pellman tells The Chicago Tribune that the MTBI committee’s studies have found that brain injuries in football are relatively uncommon and minor. The paper reports:

“After four years of keeping close track of head injuries, Pellman claims the numbers have remained ‘remarkably the same’ throughout the league. He said there are about 180 ‘incidents’ per year of mild traumatic brain injury. ‘We’re talking the majority are minor injuries,’ Pellman said.”

2000

May 2000

Research suggests concussions may lead to neurological problems

While cautioning that their study was based solely on surveys, Dr. Barry Jordan and Dr. Julian Bailes present startling results at an annual meeting for the American Academy of Neurology. Science Daily summarized their findings:

“When compared to players who did not report any concussions, the group with one or more concussions reported significantly more neurological symptoms. These included problems with memory and concentration, confusion, speech or hearing difficulties, numbness or tingling in extremities, and headaches.”

May 2000

MTBI members question return to play guidelines

The New York Times reports that MTBI committee members, along with many NFL doctors, are criticizing the American Academy of Neurology’s 1997 return-to-play guidelines, citing a lack of research to support them.

“We don’t know whether being knocked out briefly is any more dangerous than having amnesia and not being knocked out,” committee member and neurologist Dr. Mark R. Lovell tells the Times. ”We see people all the time that get knocked out briefly and have no symptoms,” he added. ”Others get elbowed, go back to the bench and say, ‘Where am I?'”

 

September 2000

Dallas owner says Aikman should ignore concussion concerns

Dallas Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones tells ESPN that he’d push Aikman to ignore concussion concerns if it was a key game “since all data that we have so far don’t point to lasting effects, long-term effects from the head trauma.”

2001

April 2001

Troy Aikman retires

Quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys Troy Aikman announces his retirement, citing his concussions and back problems.

 

2002

2002

Dr. Bennet Omalu examines Mike Webster’s brain

Because Webster was suffering from mental problems, Allegheny County medical examiner Dr. Bennet Omalu decides to take a closer look at Webster’s brain, eventually discovering the first evidence of a brain disease that had never been previously identified in football players, Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, or CTE.

 

2003

November 2003

Researchers warn on concussions

Dr. Kevin Guskiewicz, a sports medicine researcher at the University of North Carolina, publishes a paper suggesting that repeat concussions may lead to slower recovery of neurological functioning:

“Our study suggests that players with a history of previous concussions are more likely to have future concussive injuries than those with no history; 1 in 15 players with a concussion may have additional concussions in the same playing season; and previous concussions may be associated with slower recovery of neurological function.”

November 2003

MTBI chair sends knocked-out player back into game

According to a report by ESPN, New York Jets receiver Wayne Chrebet gets knocked out cold during a game against the New York Giants. Dr. Elliot Pellman, the Jets’ team doctor, who is also head of the NFL’s Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Committee, examines him, and sends him back into the game.

 

October 2003

NFL begins publishing research in scientific journal

The first of 16 scientific papers by the MTBI Committee, is published in the journal Neurosurgery along with a guest editorial by NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue. Tagliabue writes:

“We salute our Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Committee for its leadership and the individuals involved in this project who put in so many hours of work. We are confident that this important new information will continue to advance the cause of improving the safety of profession and amateur athletes on all levels.”

2004

 

January 2004

MTBI committee says most concussed players recover quickly

The MTBI committee publishes a paper in Neurosurgery emphasizing that the NFL’s concussion problem is relatively small:

“A total of 92% of concussed players returned to practice in less than seven days … More than one-half of the players returned to play within one day, and symptoms resolved in a short time in the vast majority of cases.”

September 2004

Justin Strzelczyk dies

After complaining of depression and behaving erratically, former Pittsburgh Steeler Justin Strzelczyk dies in a fiery car crash at age 36. Dr. Omalu later examines Strzelczyk’s brain and finds CTE.

 
 

October 2004

MTBI disputes research on effects of repeat concussions

The MTBI committee publishes a paper in Neurosurgery disputing Guskiewicz’s findings. According to the committee:

“They [Guskiewicz et. al.] concluded that there may be an increased risk of repeat concussive injuries and there may be a slower recovery of neurological function after repeat concussions in those have a history of previous concussions. The results of this present NFL study do not support those conclusions.”

The committee also notes that although brain disease from heads hits is seen in other athletes, such as boxers, there’s no sign of such disease in pro football players.

 

November 2004

MTBI says NFL players are less susceptible to brain injury

The MTBI committee’s fifth paper in Neurosurgery stirs controversy. It suggests that NFL players have evolved to a state where their brains are less susceptible to injury:

“One of the other processes that may account for some of these differences between NFL players and the general population might be deemed to be a type of artificial selection. Most NFL players have been involved with organized football since junior or senior high school and on through college. It is well known that MTBIs occur at all these levels of the sport. For whatever reasons, certain individuals undoubtedly are more prone to MTBI than others. Some individuals are more prone to delayed or poor recovery after MTBI. These groups may overlap. It is likely that many of these individuals will stop playing organized football before reaching the professional level. They are ‘selected out’ either of their own volition or because their head injuries prevent them from continuing to participate in the sport. As a result of this winnowing process, those players who ultimately play in the NFL are probably less susceptible to MTBI and prolonged post-concussion syndrome than the general population.”

2005

 

January 2005

MTBI suggests return to play doesn’t increase injury risk

The MTBI committee publishes another paper in Neurosurgery, concluding that:

“Players who are concussed and return to the same game have fewer initial signs and symptoms than those removed from play. Return to play does not involve a significant risk of a second injury either in the same game or during the season.”

The committee goes on to argue that its findings might apply to younger athletes.

“Under the right circumstances, specifically with regard to final decision making on return to play being solely at the clinical discretion of a knowledgeable team physician, it might be safe for college/high school football players to be cleared to return to play on the same day as their injury. The authors suggest that, rather than blindly adhering to arbitrary, rigid guidelines, physicians keep an open mind to the possibility that the present analysis of professional football players may have relevance to college and high school players.”

June 2005

Terry Long commits suicide

Forty-five year-old former Steeler Terry Long commits suicide by drinking antifreeze. Dr. Omalu later examines his brain, finds CTE.

 

July 2005

Omalu publishes his CTE findings

Dr. Bennet Omalu publishes his findings of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in Mike Webster’s brain in the journal Neurosurgery.

 

October 2005

Study ties concussions & dementia

Dr. Kevin Guskiewicz and Dr. Julian Bailes publish a study in Neurosurgery concluding “that the onset of dementia-related syndromes may be initiated by repetitive cerebral concussions in professional football players.”

 

2006

 

January 2006

MTBI member says Omalu uses “fallacious reasoning”

Steelers team doctor and future member of the MTBI Committee, Dr. Joseph Maroon, tells the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that Omalu’s conclusion that Terry Long’s suicide may have been the result of depression caused by head injuries during his career in football was “fallacious reasoning.”

“To go back and say that he was depressed from playing in the NFL and that led to his death 14 years later, I think is purely speculative,” Maroon told the paper. He added:”He could have had a head injury that wasn’t reported before football. He could have had a fight, he could have had a head injury … And that’s why I’m saying it’s so speculative.”

 

May 2006

MTBI members call for retraction

Dr. Elliot Pellman, along with MTBI committee members Dr. Ira Casson and Dr. David Viano, request that Neurosurgery retrace Omalu’s CTE paper.

“Omalu et al’s description of chronic traumatic encephalopathy is completely wrong,” they write. “The diagnosis of a chronic condition requires a medical history indicating a long-standing nature of the illness … Such a history is completely lacking in Omalu et al.s’ report.”

November 2006

Omalu publishes second CTE paper

Dr. Omalu publishes his second paper after finding the disease in the brain of former Steelers player Terry Long. As with Mike Webster, he links Long’s NFL career to his brain damage:

“Our first and second cases both had long careers without multiple recorded concussions. Both manifested Major Depressive Disorder after retirement.”

November 2006

Andre Waters commits suicide

Former Philadelphia Eagles player Andre Waters commits suicide at the age of 44. Dr. Omalu later examines his brain and finds CTE.

 

2007

February 2007

Patriots player’s story raises questions about return to play

Former New England Patriots player Ted Johnson tells The New York Times that in the wake of his retirement, he suffers from memory loss, an addiction to amphetamines and agoraphobia. He dates his problems to two concussions he suffered within a week in August 2002 and says that Coach Bill Belichick sent him back on the field for regular contact play four days later, against the advice of the team’s trainer. Belicheck later told The Boston Globe that Johnson should have told him if he wasn’t able to practice. “If Ted felt so strongly that he didn’t feel he was ready to practice with us, he should have told me,” Belichick said.

February 2007

Goodell voices concern over return to play

The league’s new commissioner, Roger Goodell, discusses the Ted Johnson story during his annual “State of the League” address, stating: “I don’t accept the premise that [returning from concussions] was common practice, but it does concern me.”

Goodell also points to the MTBI committee as proof of the league’s commitment to concussion research and player safety.

February 27, 2007

Pellman resigns

Dr. Pellman steps down from his position as head of the MTBI Committee and is replaced by two co-chairs: Dr. Ira Casson, a neurologist, and Dr. David Viano, the director of the Sports Biomechanics Lab at Wayne State University.

May 2007

Research shows concussed players at risk for depression

Dr. Julian Bailes and Dr. Kevin Guskiewicz release a study on the risk of depression in retired NFL players based on a survey of more than 2500 former players. The paper, published in the Official Journal of the American College of Sports Medicine, concludes:

“… Professional football players with a history of three of more concussions are at a significantly greater risk for having depressive episodes later in life compared with those players with no history of concussion.”

May 2007

MTBI members criticize new depression research

Members of the MTBI committee criticize the paper by Bailes and Guskiewicz for relying on surveys. “Survey studies are the weakest type of research study — they’re subject to all kinds of error and misinterpretation and miscalculation.” Committee chair Dr. Ira Casson told The New York Times. And Dr. Henry Feuer, MTBI committee member and a medical consultant for the Indianapolis Colts, told the Times that the study was “virtually worthless.”

May 14, 2007

New MTBI Chair nicknameD “Dr. No”

During an interview on HBO Real Sports, Dr. Casson adamantly denies any evidence of a link between head injuries in NFL players and depression, dementia or any other long-term problem resulting in brain damage. The interview earns him the nickname “Dr. No.”

 

June 2007

NFL hosts Concussion Summit

New NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell calls the first league-wide Concussion Summit; attendees include the NFL’s own doctors as well as outside scientists.

A number of outside researchers, including Dr. Bailes and Dr. Guskiewicz, present their findings on the dangers of concussions. Dr. Bailes says his research was dismissed by MBTI committee members.

During a press conference following the summit, Goodell touts the accomplishments of NFL doctors and champions the conference as an example of the league’s continued steps towards a better understanding of the science behind head injury.

“And I think one thing that troubles me sometimes, when I see media reports, is that this is something that, all of a sudden, we’ve started to focus on,” says Goodell. “We’ve had this committee for 14 years. We have done terrific work. And our doctors, our scientists have been working at this diligently. So this is not something that’s come to us new.

MBTI committee chair Dr. Ira Casson, meanwhile, tells reporters:

“In my opinion, the only scientifically valid evidence of a chronic encephalopathy in athletes is in boxers and in some Steeplechase jockeys. It’s never been scientifically validly documented in any other athletes… Anecdotes do not make scientifically valid evidence. I am a man of science. I believe in empirically determined scientifically valid data. And that is not scientifically valid data.”

 

September 2007

NFL issues concussion pamphlet

The pamphlet says that current research on the long-term impact of concussions is inconclusive:

“Current research with professional athletes has not shown that having more than one or two concussions leads to permanent problems if each injury is managed properly. It is important to understand that there is no magic number for how many concussions is too many. Research is currently underway to determine if there are any long-term effects of concussions in NFL athletes.”

2009

January 2009

Scientists crash the Super Bowl

Dr. Ann McKee, Chris Nowinski and a team of scientists from the newly formed Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy hold a press conference in Tampa, where the world’s sports media is gathered for the Super Bowl.

At the press conference, they announce several new cases of CTE, including in Tom McHale, who died of a drug overdose at age 45, as well as in the brain of an 18-year-old high school student who died 10 days after suffering his fourth concussion.

 

May 2009

McKee meets with MTBI Committee

Dr. McKee presents her findings to Dr. Ira Casson and members of the MTBI committee at NFL headquarters in New York. Dr. McKee says that the panel was dismissive of her and her research. “It was like, ‘Oh, the girl talked. Now we can get back to some serious business,'” she told FRONTLINE.

Committee member Dr. Henry Feuer told FRONTLINE that Dr. McKee’s research did not indicate a specific cause for CTE and could not show the prevalence of the disease, given that her findings were based solely on case studies.

“I just have a problem. Ann McKee, she cannot tell me where it’s starting. We don’t know the cause and effect. We don’t know that right now. We don’t know the incidence,” Feuer said. “She was seeing only those that were in trouble. And we know that there are thousands roaming around that are not having problems. So, I think, that’s where we may have had an issue.

 

September 2009

Study finds former players are 19 times more likely to get dementia

In a front-page article, The New York Times reports that an NFL-funded study of retired players has found that former players are 19 times more likely than the general population to have dementia, Alzheimer’s or other memory-related diseases.

September 2009

NFL says study is flawed

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello criticizes the NFL-funded study. As The New York Times reports:

“An N.F.L. spokesman, Greg Aiello, said in an e-mail message that the study did not formally diagnose dementia, that it was subject to shortcomings of telephone surveys and that ‘there are thousands of retired players who do not have memory problems … Memory disorders affect many people who never played football or other sports,’ Mr. Aiello said. ‘We are trying to understand it as it relates to our retired players.'”

October 2009

On Capitol Hill, the outside scientists present their case

Dr. Ann McKee and others present evidence of CTE in football players during a Congressional hearing. Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.) tells Goodell that the league’s response to the problem reminds her of the tobacco industry’s handling of the link between smoking and health problems in the 1990s.

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) tells Goodell: “We have heard from the NFL time and time again. You are always studying, you are always trying, you are hopeful. I want to know, what are you doing now?”

October 2009

Commissioner Goodell insists the NFL is studying the problem

Goodell is asked during his congressional testimony if there is a link between football and brain damage. He responds that he isn’t best suited to answer the question, but that the NFL is committed to continuing to research the problem and is currently taking step to improve player safety.

 

November 2009

Shake Up on the MTBI Committee

Dr. Ira Casson and Dr. David Viano resign from the MTBI committee. In a memo obtained by the Associated Press following their resignation, Commissioner Goodell said that he wanted to find new members “who will bring to the committee independent sources of expertise and experience in the field of head injuries.”

In March 2010, the league installs neurological surgeons Dr. H. Hunt Batjer and Dr. Richard G. Ellenbogen as co-chairs of the renamed “Head, Neck and Spine Committee” and appoints Dr. Kevin Guskiewicz as a member.

 

December 2009

NFL spokesman acknowledges concussions’ long-term effects

NFL Spokesman Greg Aiello tells Alan Schwarz from The New York Times that “it’s quite obvious from the medical research that’s been done that concussions can lead to long-term problems.”

This is the very first time the league admits that concussions had long-term effects.

December 2009

New return-to-play guidelines

The league announces stricter return-to-play guidelines, stating that any player that exhibits symptoms of a concussion should not return to play on the same day.

2010

 

January 2010

NFL makes Boston University its “preferred” brain bank

In addition to donating $1 million towards their research efforts, the NFL writes a letter stating they will make Dr. McKee’s Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy the “‘preferred’ brain bank of the NFL” for future research on the brains of deceased NFL players.

Dr. McKee told FRONTLINE that she was surprised by the unexpected gift. “A CBS reporter wanted to know what I thought of the gift of a million dollars. That was the first I heard of it,” she said. “I was floored.”

 

July 2010

The league warns concussions “can change your life” forever

The NFL produces a poster to be hung in locker rooms warning that concussions “may lead to problems with memory and communication, personality changes, as well as depression and the early onset of dementia. Concussions and conditions resulting from repeated brain injury can change your life and your family’s life forever.”

September 2010

CTE found in college player

Dr. McKee and the BU group report the first case of chronic traumatic encephalopathy in a college football player, 21-year-old Owen Thomas, sparking national headlines. Thomas had never been diagnosed with a concussion, raising fears that CTE in his case was caused by the subconcussive hits that happened in the course of his football career.

September 2010

NFL gives $30 million for research

NFL announces a $30 million donation to the National Institutes of Health for research into brain trauma.

2011

February 2011

Dave Duerson commits suicide

Former Chicago Bears player Dave Duerson commits suicide by shooting himself in the chest and leaves a note asking for his brain to be studied: “Please, see that my brain is given to the NFL’s brain bank.” Duerson is later diagnosed with CTE by Dr. McKee.

 
 

March 2011

NFL changes kick-off rules

The NFL moves up kick-offs by five yards to the 35-yard line in hopes of reducing the speed of collisions during kickoff.

August 2011

Player files lawsuit against NFL

Former Atlanta Falcons safety Ray Easterling files a lawsuit against the NFL. He will later be joined by more than 4,500 other former players who claim that the league engaged in a “concerted effort of deception and denial” in its handling of the science of concussions and brain trauma.

 

October 2011

DR. McKee BRIEFS CONGRESS ON CTE

Dr. McKee presents the Owen Thomas case before Congress and warns of the dangers of sub-concussive hits, which can be asymptomatic. “We really have to address the way sports are played,” she says.

 

2012

2012

2012 NFL season sees a 14% rise in concussions

FRONTLINE reports that despite rule changes designed to reduce concussions, the 2012 season marked a 14 percent increase in concussions from the previous year.

 

April 2012

Ray Easterling commits suicide

Former Atlanta Falcons safety Ray Easterling, whose legal action against the NFL was joined by thousands of other players, commits suicide by shooting himself at the age of 62. He is later diagnosed with CTE.

 

May 2012

Junior Seau commits suicide

The linebacker shot himself in the chest at age 43, two years after retiring. FRONTLINE and ESPN report that after Seau’s family was contacted by Omalu as well as McKee’s BU group, the NFL steered his brain toward researchers at the National Institutes of Health. The NIH later diagnoses Seau with CTE.

 
 

August 2012

NFL funds youth concussion awareness initiative

The NFL announces it’s funded Heads Up Football, a new USA Football initiative to promote safety and concussion awareness in youth football.

November 2012

Dr. McKee presents research at sports conference, faces critcism

Dr. McKee presents her findings of CTE in 33 of the 34 brains of former football players that she’s examined at the annual Conference of Concussion in Sport hosted by FIFA, the international soccer federation, in Zurich.

McKee faces sharp criticism at the conference, particularly around the question of a causal relationship between football and CTE and questions of prevalence when her research is based solely on case studies.

McKee told FRONTLINE that she’s aware that she’s only seeing a small sample.

“I think to be truthful, even a selection bias in an autopsy sample, even if the family of an individual who is affected is much more likely to donate their brain, than a person who has no symptoms whatsoever,” she said, “given that, we have still been just ridiculously successful in getting examples of this disease.

November 2012

Goodell speaks about concussions

The NFL commissioner speaks about player safety at the Harvard School of Public Health. He emphasizes the league’s focus on making the game safer, but he also points out that there are still unanswered questions when it comes to the long-term impact of concussions:

“In recent years, there has been a much sharper focus on concussions in football and other sports. There are still unanswered questions, but scientists and doctors know more about concussions and their long-term potential effects than they did even a few years ago. The key issue for us is how we use this new understanding to make the game even safer and more exciting in the future.”

2013

 

January 2013

NFLPA funds $100 million study

NFL Players Association announces it will fund a $100 million Harvard Medical School research initiative into the health problems that affect current and former football players. The initiative’s focus is broad and includes heart problems and joint and skeletal injuries, as well as head trauma.

January 2013

NFL announces new concussion safety measures

The NFL announces that an independent neurologist will be placed on the sidelines of every game. The move follows the introduction of concussion assessment protocols designed by the Head, Neck and Spine committee including “a symptom checklist, a limited neurological examination including a cognitive evaluation, and a balance assessment” for players.

April 2013

Former Players call NFL actions a ‘sham’

Hearings take place on whether lawsuits filed by over 1/3 of retired NFL players claiming the league fraudulently concealed football’s dangers to their brains will be litigated. Lawyers for the former players argue the league profited by glorifying the violence of the game and “set up a sham committee” that “spread misinformation” about neurological risks inherent in football.

April 2013

League denies withholding data

At a press conference following a hearing on 4500 retired player’s pending lawsuits against the league, a lawyer for the NFL states:

“We strongly deny those allegations that we withheld any information or misled the players.”

 

August 2013

NFL announces more rule changes

The league releases a video explaining new NFL playing rules. Included is a ban on “crown of the helmet” hits outside of the tacklebox – designed to reduce high impact hits to the head.

August 2013

A surprise settlement

The NFL agrees to pay $765 million to settle the lawsuit with retired players. As part of the settlement, the league doesn’t admit any wrongdoing.

In the days following the settlement, Commissioner Goodell reiterates that “there was no admission of guilt. There was no admission that anything was caused by football.”

As of October 2013, lawyers are still determining how the proceeds will be used for former players. ESPN has reported that any retired player who died before 2006 would be excluded from the settlement, and that it’s unclear if there is enough money to cover the players that do qualify.

September 2013

Problems remain despite new concussion protocols

Jets player Jeremy Kerley suffers a blow to the head during week 1 of the 2013 NFL season. After passing the mandatory concussion evaluation he returns to the game. The following day Kerley is diagnosed with a concussion.

 

October 2013

CTE Research continues

Dr. Ann McKee, Dr. Omalu and other scientists continue to study CTE in former athletes. McKee tells FRONTLINE she’s found CTE in the brains of 45 of the 46 former NFL players she’s examined.

 
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