NFL acknowledges link between football, CTE for the first time

Prior to Monday, the official stance from Roger Goodell and the NFL had been that the science hasn't conclusively established a link between football and CTE.

Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL’s top health and safety officer admitted Monday that there’s a link between football and chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, according to ESPN. It’s the first time a senior league official acknowledged that football-related head trauma could lead to brain disease.

NFL representatives met with members of the U.S. House of Representatives’ Energy and Commerce Committee for a discussion on concussions, where the league’s vice president of health and safety, Jeff Miller, was asked to confirm the link between football and neurodegenerative diseases like CTE exists.

"The answer to that question is certainly yes," said Miller, via ESPN.

However, Miller admitted that he’s not sure what the findings mean for the future of the NFL and how it may affect the game in the long run.

"There is a number of questions that comes with that," Miller said. "I think the broader point, and the one that your question gets to, is what that necessarily means, and where do we go from here with that information."

The concession comes after Mitch Berger, a neurosurgeon who leads the NFL’s subcommittee on long-term brain injury, insisted that there is no established link between football and CTE during Super Bowl Week.

Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill. was highly critical of Berger’s remarks, and said that the league is downplaying the importance of the link.

"The NFL is peddling a false sense of security," Schakowsky said. "Football is a high-risk sport because of the routine hits, not just diagnosable concussions. What the American public need now is honesty about the health risks and clearly more research."

Miller reportedly declined to comment further on the matter once the informal meeting ended, ignoring follow-up questions from reporters.