During a meeting with the U.S. House of Representatives, an NFL representative acknowledged a link between the game of football and a degenerative brain disease that has been diagnosed in a number former players.
According to a report from ESPN, Monday was the first time the league has acknowledged a link between football and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).
ESPN reports that Jeff Miller, the NFL’s senior vice president for health and safety, recognized the link during a meeting with the Committee on Energy and Commerce. Miller was asked point blank about a link between the sport and CTE, by Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.).
“The answer to that question is certainly yes," Miller said.
Miller cited a study by Dr. Ann McKee, a Boston University doctor who has been on the forefront of CTE research. She has found traces of the disease in 90 of 94 deceased former football players that have donated their brains.
CTE is believed to be caused when the brain hits the inner part of the skull during impact sports like football. The disease is believed to cause memory loss, depression and anger in former players.
For years, the NFL has denied a link between the sport and CTE, even as recently as February. In December, it was revealed that the NFL vetoed the use of $16 million of what they had once called an “unrestricted” gift that was slated for CTE research.
December also saw the release of the movie Concussion, a film based on the true story of Dr. Bennet Omalu and his fight to uncover the link between football and CTE.
Alex Hider is a writer for the E.W. Scripps National Desk. Follow him on Twitter @alexhider.