It’s surprising that this widespread brain damage among American football players receives as little attention as it does, especially with compelling essays such as this one.
Professional football is a brutal sport, he knew that. But he loved it anyway. And he accepted the risks of bruises and broken bones. What he didn’t know was that along with a battered body can come a battered mind.
For decades, it was not well understood that football can permanently harm the brain. Otherwise, many parents would most likely not have signed their boys up to play. But this reality was obscured by the N.F.L.’s top medical experts, who for years had denied any link between the sport and long-term degenerative brain diseases like C.T.E., chronic traumatic encephalopathy.
That started to change in late 2009 when, for the first time, the N.F.L. publicly acknowledged that concussions can have long-term effects. In 2016, a top league official admitted there is a connection between football and C.T.E. which has now been found in the brains of more than 100 deceased players. But for Rob, and countless other players, those admissions came too late.