BOCA RATON, Fla. -- NHL commissioner Gary Bettman had very little reaction to this week’s public admission from a top NFL official connecting football-related head trauma and chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE.
"Well, first of all, I don’t feel that it’s either necessary or appropriate for me to comment on what the NFL either says or does," Bettman told assembled media after the conclusion of the NHL general managers meetings. "Secondly, I think it’s fairly clear that playing hockey isn’t the same as playing football. And as we’ve said all along, we’re not going to get in a public debate on this."
Jeff Miller, the NFL's senior vice president for health and safety, made headlines earlier this week when he responded to a question during a roundtable discussion on concussions convened by the U.S. House of Representatives' Committee on Energy and Commerce. Miller was asked if the link between football and neurodegenerative diseases such as CTE has been established.
"The answer to that question is certainly yes," Miller said.
The NHL is fighting its own battle on this issue, facing a lawsuit from more than 100 former NHL players in Minnesota court. The former players claim the league was negligent in informing them about the dangers of concussions and concussion-related injuries; they allege the league concealed information regarding possible neurological problems related to repeated blows to the head.
Bettman has previously denied the connection between playing hockey and CTE.
"From a medical science standpoint, there is no evidence yet that one necessarily leads to the other," Bettman said last May 21. "I know there are a lot of theories, but if you ask people who study it, they tell you there is no statistical correlation that can definitively make that conclusion."