Damage Control: NFL Reacts to Statements Made by League Executive About Link Between Football and CTE

On Friday, March 25, 2016, the National Football League beseeched the Third Circuit to not admit statements made by Jeff Miller, the NFL’s Senior Vice President for Health and Public Safety, at a recently-held U.S. Congressional committee roundtable meeting wherein Miller seemingly acknowledged a link between football and chronic traumatic encephalopathy. This was largely seen as the first time the NFL had recognized such a connection.

The NFL put forth the position that players’ efforts to supplement the record with Miller’s statements should be denied because the admission of the statements would be both improper and unnecessary, and that to interpret what Miller said as an admission of a connection between football and CTE is to take it out of context and to ignore portions of the statement itself. When asked if he believed a link existed, many cite Miller as responding “the answer to that question is certainly yes,” however his entire response was as follows:

Dr. McKee’s research shows that a number of retired NFL players are diagnosed with CTE so, there … the answer to that question is certainly yes, but there’s also a number of questions that come with that.

The NFL said in a letter on Friday that “[the Third Circuit] has identified a limited set of circumstances under which supplementing the record on appeal is appropriate” and “[t]here is thus no basis in [the Third Circuit]’s precedent for granting [the players’] motion.” It further states that in any event, because a current settlement between the NFL and the former players provides compensation for those with CTE, admitting the statements would serve no purpose.

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