By Dan Bernstein —
670TheScore.com senior columnist
(670 The Score) The NFL would love for you to be focused on concussions.
Counter-intuitive as that may seem, the league has been trying to keep the attention of both players and fans on the most jarring and dramatic hits and the ensuing responses and treatment, because doing so allows them to keep ignoring the fact that the mundane action of football is causing more brain damage.
We knew this truth as far back as 2010, when a Purdue University study published in the Journal of Neurotrauma monitored the head blows absorbed by a high school team and determined that the most cognitive damage was suffered by players who didn’t have concussions and were thus subject to an unrelenting stream of sub-concussive hits. Concussions actually saved some players from harm, in reality, by removing them from games and practices in which the smaller impacts continued to accrue.
The game itself is the culprit, a fact further confirmed by another study just published in the journal Brain and conducted by the esteemed experts at Boston University. The research showed clearly just how early and insidiously CTE begins — and without the big blows that are of outsized concern. Dr. Lee Goldstein summed up his results simply and forcefully, telling CNN, “Now we have both the scientific proof, the pathologies to support it, and all the evidence to show that concussion is not linked to long-term neurological disease.”
“The concussion is really irrelevant for triggering CTE,” he told the Washington Post. “We were surprised that the brain pathology was unrelated to signs of concussion. Our findings provide strong causal evidence linking head impact to TBI and early CTE, independent of concussion.”
As we have said many times before in this space, it’s not about concussions.
It’s about football.