The NFL’s senior vice president for health and safety policy, Jeff Miller, surprised many Monday when he acknowledged the link between football and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disease. It marked the first official recognition from the league of the long-term health risks of playing the game.
In response, New York Times sports columnist Michael Powell tweeted:
So Why do American Colleges & Universities Celebrate A Sport that Destroys Young Brains? https://t.co/DZwLvlbmkM
— Michael Powell (@powellnyt) March 15, 2016
Matt Storin ’64, former Boston Globe editor, Notre Dame administrator and faculty member, wrestled with that question in the magazine’s fall issue. A former Fighting Irish football manager, Storin remains a big fan, but says the sport’s inherent dangers cast a lengthening shadow.
At Notre Dame, the tragic consequences of CTE have hit close to home. Dave Duerson ’83, a college All-American and two-time Super Bowl champion, took his own life in 2011. An examination of his brain showed him to have the disease. Duerson’s classmate Peter Grant ’83 also committed suicide after suffering the effects of CTE despite never having played beyond the interhall level. Duerson and Grant were the focus of a 2011 article about the growing body of research that has established such a strong connection between football and head trauma.