The shocking comment was featured in the trailer for “League of Denial” and at the beginning of the 2-hour special, which aired on Frontline Tuesday night.
“I’m really wondering if at some level every single football player has this,” said Boston University neuropathologist Ann McKee, in speaking about chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).
The opinion of McKee isn’t to be taken lightly, given that she has studied the brains of 46 ex-NFL players, and found CTE in 45 of them. At the same time, the comment seems to brush past the notion that people are affected differently by concussions and subconcussive hits.
Brian Hainline, a neurologist who became the NCAA’s Chief Medical Officer in January, told the Birmingham News in a story that ran Wednesday that there is no data to prove that athletes who suffer concussions are more susceptible to long-term brain injuries.
“The overwhelming majority of athletes who have a concussion, they recover from a concussion,” he told the paper. “I think there’s a subgroup of athletes who either have a genetic susceptibility or they have repeated concussions or subconcussions and the brain has not gone into recovery mode and they become susceptible to long-term brain issues.”
Hainline noted that many people, who suffer from Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Lou Gehrig’s diseases, have never experienced head trauma. The paper paraphrased Hainline as saying CTE has features of those diseases, but the science is evolving. “Theories such as genetics, drug use, stimulants and psychiatric disease are ‘very possible reasons’ some players absorb subconcussive impacts worse than others,” the article continued.