Amid intense scrutiny and increasing concern over the health and safety of football players on and off the field, the National Football League is teaming up with Harvard University to study the long-term impact the game has on player health.
The NFL is creating a $100 million fund for the Boston institution to use over the course of 10 years in an effort to diagnose, treat and prevent injuries and illnesses.
“No one has ever studied these players before,” said Dr. Lee Nadler, dean for clinical and translational research at Harvard Medical School and co-director of the proposed study in a report to CNN Money. “There have been postmortem studies looking at the brains of previous players, but not the players today.”
The game has come under fire in the past few years after the sudden and tragic suicides of notable players. Dave Duerson asked his family to donate his brain to research in a text message before he shot himself in the chest in early 2011. The family of beloved San Diego Charger linebacker Junior Seau recently filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the NFL for injuries Seau suffered during his career. Seau shot himself in the chest in May of last year, and autopsy reports found that he suffered from CTE, a degenerative brain disease brought on by years of concussions.
The NFL is not establishing the fund as a concussion research lab, rather they are looking at the game holistically and aim to create solutions that put player health and safety first.
“One of the broader aims of the research is conflicts of interest when you have a patient who will do anything to get back on the field and a doctor who works for and is paid by a club,” Sean Sansiveri, staff counsel for the National Football League Player Association told CNN Money.
For more on the fund and how it aims to change the game, head over to CNN Money.