A top NFL official acknowledged for the first time on Monday a link between football-related concussions and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), the degenerative brain condition caused by repeated blows to the head.
The statement came from the National Football League’s senior vice president for health and safety, Jeff Miller, when he was asked during a hearing before the U.S. House of Representatives’ Energy and Commerce Committee whether a link has been established between football and disorders such as CTE.
“The answer to that question is certainly yes,” Miller said in testimony recorded in a video clip posted by the television sports channel ESPN on its website.
Miller’s comment marked the first time a senior league official has publicly conceded the sport’s connection to CTE, which medical research has closely linked with the repeated head injuries, often leading to aggression and dementia.
An NFL spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Miller’s testimony.
A high incidence of degenerative brain disease in former professional American football players has led thousands of NFL alumni to press for and win a settlement that could cost the league $1 billion.
The subject gained additional attention from the 2015 film “Concussion,” which starred Will Smith as a doctor who fought NFL efforts to conceal his research on brain damage suffered by players.
Several dozen of the game’s top players, including Hall of Famers Frank Gifford and Junior Seau, were diagnosed with CTE when doctors analyzed their brains after death. Currently, CTE can only be reliably determined after death.