The United States government may finally be on the verge of looking into brain injuries suffered by pro football players.
At a congressional hearing today, U.S. Rep. John Conyers requested records on head injuries suffered by professional football players. The Associated Press reports that Conyers, a Democrat and House committee chairman, is seeking an "independent review of all the data" due to the "life and death" nature of the issue.
Not everyone is for federal government stepping in. U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith said "the NFL does not need Congress to referee this issue," and the Texas Republican said lawmakers "cannot legislate the elimination of injuries from the games without eliminating the games themselves."
Congress' action came in light of a study from researchers at the University of Michigan that found retired pro football players may suffer from Alzheimer's disease and other mental health issues at a higher than normal rate. Researchers haven't found a definitive link, but they say the issue does deserve more study.
Earlier this month, I spoke to Christopher Nowinski of the Sports Legacy Institute, which studies the
degenerative neurological condition these players have experienced,
which is called Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE).
"Two thirds of the brains that we've looked at have died in accidental
situations, meaning suicide or car accident or drug overdose," Nowinski
told me. "And we believe that the disease contributes to that. You're
more likely to die in a bizarre way because you start losing control.
Other ones have died in nursing homes after 10 years of dementia."
Kyle Turley, who retired from the Kansas City Chiefs in 2007, told me
that he's donating his brain after his death to the Sports Legacy
Institute so researchers there can study the head trauma he's
Turley recalled a recent incident in which he was hospitalized about a month ago after passing out and having
"seizure-like convulsions." When he regained consciousness, he began throwing up and experiencing vertigo.
isn't sure what caused the incident. He also shared several stories
that painted the league and teams' handling of head injuries in a