SAN FRANCISCO (CBS) — NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said there has been a “culture change” when it comes to concussions, but he made some dismissive comments at San Francisco’s Moscone Center on Friday that left some people concerned.
Concussions have been a hot topic leading up to the Super Bowl following the announcement this week that Raiders legend Ken Stabler, who died in 2015, was posthumously diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). CTE is a progressive degenerative brain disease found in athletes and others with a history of repetitive brain trauma.READ MORE: COVID: New Push for More Vaccinations in Santa Clara County
Goodell insists the league is taking the matter seriously, changing dozens of rules and working on new technology. But he has also been accused of being flippant about the issue.
And again Friday with this turn of phrase: “If I had a son I’d love to have him play the game of football because of the values you get. There’s risk in life. There’s risk to sitting on the couch,” Goodell said.
Jeff Jones, a Boulder, Colorado resident visiting the Bay Area for the Super Bowl said, “I think that statement is talking down to the people watching football. Football is America’s sport but they’ve got to make it more safe. Way too many injuries this year. Way too many people leading with their heads. And they’ve got to do something about it.
This week former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Joe Montana talked about the concussions he’s suffered during his football career.
“The last concussion hurt. It was like a lightning bolt went through my head,” Montana said, describing the blow that made him decide to end his football career.READ MORE: UPDATE: River Fire Erupts in Nevada and Placer Counties; Evacuations Ordered in Colfax
Dr. Ann McKee, a professor of neurology at Boston University, conducted the study on Stabler’s brain. Mckee told KCBS she was surprised by the number of CTE lesions in his brain. She said that the disease was very prevalent in Stabler’s amygdala and hippocampus – areas of the brain “extremely important for learning and memory and emotional regulation.”
Chris Nowinski, executive director of the Concussion Legacy Foundation, and an outspoken critic of the NFL on the topic of head injuries, was in San Francisco this week listening to Dr. Mitch Berger, a member of the NFL’s head, neck and spine committee, discuss concussions with the media.
Nowinski said that he was particularly bothered by an exchange between reporters and Berger.
Berger, chair of the department of neurological surgery at the University of California-San Francisco, would not draw a direct line from football to CTE, Nowinski said.
Nowinski said this is part of the NFL’s general talking points and their strategy to brush over the fact that over 100 NFL players have been diagnosed with CTE in the last decade.MORE NEWS: 'Mayor Of The Mission' Helps Feed People Struggling To Survive During The Pandemic
Additional CBS coverage about at least nine concussions suffered by the Carolina Panthers and the Denver Broncos this season can be found here.