BOCA RATON, Fla. -- Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones expressed his doubt over the link between chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) and football on Tuesday, telling the Washington Post it was "absurd" to say definitively there's a link between football and CTE. His comments came just eight days after an NFL official first admitted the link between CTE and football.
Like Jones, Houston Texans owner Bob McNair wants more data before definitively saying football is to blame for the illness. In comments to ESPN.com, McNair used less explosive language than Jones, but said he had concerns about the misconceptions concerning concussions and the NFL.
"I think it’s an important issue," said McNair, speaking at the NFL owners meetings. "I’m more concerned about the misconceptions people can have about it than I am about what’s really taking place. We’re studying this issue closely, more than anyone else. We’ve put up money for research before anyone else did. Our medical scientists still don’t know what the cause of CTE is. It appears that if you’ve had multiple concussions from whatever you’ve been doing, riding a bicycle, skateboarding, it’s not just football, that there’s a possibility it could lead to CTE."
On March 14, Jeff Miller, the NFL's senior vice president of health and safety, acknowledged a link between CTE and football. It was the first time an NFL executive publicly did so. Miller made his statement in response to Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., who asked if a link between football and neurological diseases like CTE had been established.
"The answer to that question is certainly yes," Miller said.
Jones said he was not intending to contradict Miller. McNair wasn't specifically asked about Miller's comments, but offered his own remaining question about research.
"We don’t know does CTE exist among people who’ve never had any contact? We don’t know," McNair said. "Because when you’re alive they can’t check for it. The only players, the brains that have been checked, were ones who clearly were having problems. So it wasn’t a scientific sample that they were dealing with. We’ve got thousands of players who are not suffering from dementia of any type. So we have a lot to learn yet.
"But we’re not downplaying it. We’ve changed the rules to try to protect the players. We’re looking at equipment changes to protect the players. I think we’ve convinced the players that if you have had a hard hit to the head and you feel like you’ve been concussed, don’t be ashamed to say I need to come out, whereas before that was their attitude so it was never reported to us. But now they recognize that’s not smart. If they have a concussion, report it, come out, let us check 'em out. If they’re OK, fine, go back in, but if they’ve definitely been concussed, then they don’t go back in."