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Nearly all NFL players in study show evidence of brain disorder CTE

 

Ninety-nine percent of former NFL players who donated their brain to science turned out to have the devastating disorder chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, according to a new report.

Researchers found evidence of the degenerative brain disease in 110 out of 111 deceased National Football League players, said study co-author Dr. Daniel Daneshvar. He is a researcher with the Boston University School of Medicine’s CTE Center.

“A remarkable proportion of the athletes who played at the highest level develop neurodegenerative disease,” Daneshvar said. “This is incredibly concerning, because of the sheer numbers” of men who have ever played the game professionally.

Evidence of CTE also was found in 91 percent of brains donated by college football players, 88 percent of those from Canadian Football League players, and 21 percent of brains donated by high school players, the researchers found.

According to Dr. Gil Rabinovici, an associate professor of neurology with the University of California, San Francisco Memory and Aging Center, “CTE changes could also be detected in some individuals who played at the collegiate and even high-school level, suggesting lower levels of exposure may be sufficient to lead to brain injury.”

The report includes the autopsy results from 202 brains, with CTE diagnosed in 177 brains.

“In this study,” Daneshvar noted, “we more than double the total number of cases of CTE in the world’s literature.”

CTE tends to occur in people who experience repetitive brain trauma. It shows up at autopsy as aberrant protein clumps and other signs of brain damage, according to the nonprofit Concussion Legacy Foundation.

Previous studies have suggested that both full-fledged concussions and sub-concussive blows — jarring head impacts but not actual concussions — can contribute to the risk of CTE, Rabinovici said.

People with the disorder experience problems with thinking and memory, mood disorders, and behavioral problems, Daneshvar said. Lack of impulse control, aggression, depression, impaired judgment, memory loss, paranoia, confusion and progressive dementia are some of the symptoms that can occur.

Prior research has uncovered CTE in dozens of former NFL players. They include Pittsburgh Steelers center Mike Webster; Junior Seau, linebacker for the San Diego Chargers; Ken Stabler, the Oakland Raiders quarterback; and Frank Gifford, running back for the New York Giants.

The new study results were published July 25 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The researchers found that among patients with severe CTE, 89 percent had experienced behavioral or mood problems, 95 percent had had difficulty with thought and reasoning, and 85 percent had had signs of dementia.

The severity of CTE found in a player’s brain varied with their level of play, according to the new report.

Most brains from players at advanced levels showed signs of severe CTE, including 86 percent of professional players and 56 percent of semi-professional or college players.

On the other hand, all high school players diagnosed with CTE displayed mild signs of disease, the investigators found.

“It’s becoming increasingly clear there’s a likely relationship between exposure to repetitive hits to the head and development of CTE,” Daneshvar said.

While the study doesn’t prove a direct cause-and-effect relationship, he said the differences in this sample tend to support the idea there is an association between playing football and the development of neurodegenerative disease.

Also, no position on the field appeared to be safer than any other when it comes to CTE, Daneshvar explained.

“Amongst the NFL and college players, we have a wide array from all positions on the field that develop CTE,” Daneshvar said. “It’s unclear there was a position that an athlete could play that could not develop CTE.”

Daneshvar and Rabinovici noted the numbers from this report cannot be applied to all football players in general, since these brains were specifically donated to be examined for CTE.

“This is quite a biased sample,” said Rabinovici, who wrote an editorial accompanying the article. “The patients were nearly all impaired during life. Families whose loved ones were sick during life are intuitively more likely to commit to brain donation, in part to get an explanation for what caused their loved one’s symptoms,” he explained.

“In addition, the study was heavily weighted towards former professional players, and relatively few patients played at the high school level or lower,” Rabinovici continued. “So we are looking at a sample of some of the sickest individuals who likely were exposed to a very high burden of traumatic brain injury.”

Currently, CTE can only be diagnosed after death. To understand the full extent of the problem, doctors need to be able to detect CTE in living people, Rabinovici said.

“Because of the limitations of an autopsy-based study, we really don’t know how common CTE truly is in the NFL, let alone in the millions of others who played the game at a lower level, or who participate in other contact sports,” Rabinovici said.

While new methods for CTE diagnosis are in the works, “nothing is ready for prime time yet,” he said.

(By Dennis Thompson, HealthDay News
Copyright © 2017 HealthDay. All rights reserved.)

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2017 NFL training camp: When every team starts and which players to watch

After a long offseason, football is back. Or at least football practices are back. Five teams have already welcomed their rookies to training camp, and soon the rest of the league will join them.

First-year head coaches like Sean McVay and Kyle Shanahan will finally get their first cracks at incorporating their philosophies. You’ll also get to see rookie quarterbacks Deshaun Watson and Mitchell Trubisky compete for starting gigs.

Each team will begin training camp by the end of the month. Here’s when every team starts, and which players you should keep an eye on before preseason action kicks off:

Arizona Cardinals

Where: University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Ariz.

Rookies report: July 21

Rookie to watch: Haason Reddick, a first-round pick who may start right away.

Veterans report: July 21

Veteran to watch: Blaine Gabbert, the newcomer at quarterback who will battle Drew Stanton for backup duties.
Atlanta Falcons

Where: Atlanta Falcons Training Facility, Flowery Branch, Ga.

Rookies report: July 26

Rookie to watch: Takkarist McKinley, a pass rusher who has already made an impression with his big personality.

Veterans report: July 26

Veteran to watch: Dontari Poe, the gigantic nose tackle who joined Atlanta as a free agent.
Baltimore Ravens

Where: Under Armour Performance Center, Owings Mills, Md.

Rookies report: July 19

Rookie to watch: Tim Williams, a promising pass rusher who could help Terrell Suggs get after the quarterback.

Veterans report: July 26

Veteran to watch: Jeremy Maclin, a dangerous deep threat who was surprisingly cut by the Chiefs.
Buffalo Bills

Where: St. John Fisher College, Rochester, N.Y.

Rookies report: July 26

Rookie to watch: Tre’Davious White, the guy replacing Stephon Gilmore.

Veterans report: July 26

Veteran to watch: Shaq Lawson, a first-round pick in 2016 who missed his first training camp due to shoulder surgery.
Carolina Panthers

Where: Wofford College, Spartanburg, S.C.

Rookies report: July 25

Rookie to watch: Christian McCaffrey, a do-everything weapon who is electric with the ball.

Veterans report: July 25

Veteran to watch: Julius Peppers, a former Panthers star back to finish his career in Carolina.
Chicago Bears

Where: Olivet Nazarene University, Bourbonnais, Ill.

Rookies report: July 19

Rookie to watch: Mitchell Trubisky. He probably won’t start but all eyes will be on the No. 2 pick.

Veterans report: July 26

Veteran to watch: Mike Glennon, the guy who got a contract that made people say “what?!”
Cincinnati Bengals

Where: Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, Ohio

Rookies report: July 25

Rookie to watch: John Ross, the fastest NFL Combine participant ever.

Veterans report: July 27

Veteran to watch: Vontaze Burfict, a contentious linebacker entering a contract year.
Cleveland Browns

Where: Cleveland Browns Training Complex, Berea, Ohio

Rookies report: July 23

Rookie to watch: Myles Garrett, the No. 1 pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.

Veterans report: July 26

Veteran to watch: Cody Kessler/Brock Osweiler, the veterans battling to start at quarterback.
Dallas Cowboys

Where: Marriott River Ridge complex, Oxnard, Calif.

Rookies report: July 19

Rookie to watch: Taco Charlton, a much-needed pass rusher on a team that’s struggled to find one.

Veterans report: July 22

Veteran to watch: Jaylon Smith, a linebacker who still hasn’t been on the field due to a knee injury suffered in college.
Denver Broncos

Where: UCHealth Training Center, Englewood, Colo.

Rookies report: July 23

Rookie to watch: Chad Kelly, the Mr. Irrelevant of 2017 with a real chance at making the roster.

Veterans report: July 26

Veteran to watch: Paxton Lynch, a quarterback who was drafted to be the starter of the future, but has to beat out Trevor Siemian first.
Detroit Lions

Where: Detroit Lions Training Facility, Allen Park, Mich.

Rookies report: July 24

Rookie to watch: Jarrad Davis, an instant starter at linebacker.

Veterans report: July 29

Veteran to watch: Greg Robinson, the former Rams bust who may have to start in Taylor Decker’s place.
Green Bay Packers

Where: St. Norbert College, De Pere, Wis.

Rookies report: July 26

Rookie to watch: Jamaal Williams, a fourth-round running back who can contribute on a team with no running backs.

Veterans report: July 26

Veteran to watch: Martellus Bennett, another weapon to make Aaron Rodgers more dangerous.
Houston Texans

Where: The Greenbrier, White Sulphur Springs, W. Va.

Rookies report: July 25

Rookie to watch: Deshaun Watson, a rookie who will compete to start but is an underdog vs. Tom Savage.

Veterans report: July 25

Veteran to watch: J.J. Watt, a star returning from injury.
Indianapolis Colts

Where: Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center, Indianapolis, Ind.

Rookies report: July 24

Rookie to watch: Malik Hooker, a dangerous centerfielder who can up the Colts’ interception count.

Veterans report: July 29

Veteran to watch: Andrew Luck, whose health is somewhat of a mystery.
Jacksonville Jaguars

Where: Florida Blue Health & Wellness Practice Fields, Jacksonville, Fla.

Rookies report: July 19

Rookie to watch: Leonard Fournette, the bruising running back who will handle the load for the Jacksonville offense.

Veterans report: July 26

Veteran to watch: Blake Bortles, the often erratic quarterback who is the biggest reason why the Jaguars aren’t considered contenders.
Kansas City Chiefs

Where: Missouri Western State University, St. Joseph, Mo.

Rookies report: July 24

Rookie to watch: Patrick Mahomes II, the first quarterback drafted by the Chiefs in the first round since 1983.

Veterans report: July 27

Veteran to watch: Bennie Logan, a nose tackle who has to fill the void left by Dontari Poe.
Los Angeles Chargers

Where: Jack Hammett Sports Complex, Costa Mesa, Calif.

Rookies report: July 29

Rookie to watch: Forrest Lamp/Dan Feeney, the pair of guards who will battle for starting roles.

Veterans report: July 29

Veteran to watch: Joey Bosa, the Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2016 who missed most of camp last year due to a contract dispute.
Los Angeles Rams

Where: University of California, Irvine, Irvine, Calif.

Rookies report: July 26

Rookie to watch: Cooper Kupp, an ultra-productive receiver in the FCS.

Veterans report: July 28

Veteran to watch: Jared Goff, the No. 1 pick in 2016 who didn’t do much as a rookie.
Miami Dolphins

Where: Baptist Health Training Facility, Davie, Fla.

Rookies report: July 20

Rookie to watch: Charles Harris, the heir apparent for Cameron Wake.

Veterans report: July 26

Veteran to watch: Ryan Tannehill, the starting quarterback who suffered a partially torn ACL in 2016.
Minnesota Vikings

Where: Minnesota State University, Mankato, Minn.

Rookies report: July 23

Rookie to watch: Laquon Treadwell, a first-round pick in 2016 who had one catch as a rookie.

Veterans report: July 26

Veteran to watch: Teddy Bridgewater, who may not even play in 2017 but is worth watching closely anyway.
New England Patriots

Where: Gillette Stadium, Foxboro, Mass.

Rookies report: July 24

Rookie to watch: Derek Rivers, a defensive end who racked up 41 sacks at Youngstown State.

Veterans report: July 26

Veteran to watch: Brandin Cooks, Tom Brady’s shiniest new toy.
New Orleans Saints

Where: New Orleans Saints Training Facility, Metairie, La.

Rookies report: July 19

Rookie to watch: Marshon Lattimore, the first cornerback drafted.

Veterans report: July 26

Veteran to watch: Adrian Peterson, a seven-time Pro Bowler no longer wearing purple.
New York Giants

Where: Quest Diagnostics Training Center, East Rutherford, N.J.

Rookies report: July 27

Rookie to watch: Evan Engram, a hybrid tight end who could be a nightmare in the red zone.

Veterans report: July 27

Veteran to watch: Brandon Marshall, a big wide receiver on a team with little receivers.
New York Jets

Where: Atlantic Health Jets Training Center, Florham Park, N.J.

Rookies report: July 28

Rookie to watch: Jamal Adams/Marcus Maye, the tandem of safeties taking over in the New York secondary.

Veterans report: July 28

Veteran to watch: Josh McCown, the quarterback who will probably start for the Jets in 2017.
Oakland Raiders

Where: Napa Valley Marriott, Napa, Calif.

Rookies report: July 24

Rookie to watch: Obi Melifonwu, a safety the Raiders hope will be their very own Kam Chancellor.

Veterans report: July 28

Veteran to watch: Marshawn Lynch, who will usher the Raiders out of Oakland in style.
Philadelphia Eagles

Where: NovaCare Training Complex, Philadelphia

Rookies report: July 23

Rookie to watch: Donnel Pumphrey, a diminutive running back who gets to follow in Darren Sproles’ footsteps.

Veterans report: July 26

Veteran to watch: Alshon Jeffery, the team’s big free agent acquisition who needs to develop chemistry with Carson Wentz.
Pittsburgh Steelers

Where: Saint Vincent College, Latrobe, Pa.

Rookies report: July 27

Rookie to watch: James Conner, the running back with the NFL’s top-selling rookie jersey.

Veterans report: July 27

Veteran to watch: Le’Veon Bell, who still hasn’t signed his franchise tender.
San Francisco 49ers

Where: SAP Performance Facility, Santa Clara, Calif.

Rookies report: July 27

Rookie to watch: Reuben Foster, an All-American who will compete to start as a rookie.

Veterans report: July 27

Veteran to watch: Brian Hoyer, who faces the impossible task of scoring points with the 49ers’ offense.
Seattle Seahawks

Where: Virginia Mason Athletic Center, Renton, Wash.

Rookies report: July 29

Rookie to watch: Ethan Pocic, a center at LSU who may start at right guard as a rookie.

Veterans report: July 29

Veteran to watch: Luke Joeckel, a bust in Jacksonville who will try to hold down left tackle duties in Seattle.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Where: One Buccaneer Place, Tampa, Fla.

Rookies report: July 25

Rookie to watch: O.J. Howard, a tight end that Jameis Winston will likely target often.

Veterans report: July 27

Veteran to watch: DeSean Jackson, a deep threat who can have a huge year if the wheels haven’t come off.
Tennessee Titans

Where: Saint Thomas Sports Park, Nashville, Tenn.

Rookies report: July 28

Rookie to watch: Corey Davis, a receiver who can finally give Marcus Mariota someone to throw to.

Veterans report: July 28

Veteran to watch: Derrick Henry, a former Heisman winner who should get more touches in year two.
Washington

Where: Bon Secours Training Center, Richmond, Va.

Rookies report: July 26

Rookie to watch: Jonathan Allen, a nightmare at Alabama who fell in the draft due to injuries.

Veterans report: July 26

Veteran to watch: Kirk Cousins, the most fascinating man of the 2017 offseason.

Kaleel.Weatherly and Adam Stites

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Trai Turner gets extension from Panthers on Marty Hurney’s 1st day as GM

One of the criticisms of Dave Gettleman was that he didn’t place much value on loyalty and didn’t re-sign many of the best players in Carolina Panthers history. On interim general manager Marty Hurney’s first day back on the job, it already looks like he’s getting started on correcting that problem.

On Thursday, offensive lineman Trai Turner announced on Twitter he received a new contract from the Panthers that will keep him with the team for four more seasons.

The extension makes Turner one of the highest-paid guards in the NFL with only Kevin Zeitler and Kelechi Osemele averaging more money per year.

The talks didn’t start with the arrival of Hurney, though. There were reports of preliminary negotiations back in June between the team and Turner, and it’s hard to imagine Hurney bridged the remaining gap a day after he was hired.

But the timing of the deal does seem noteworthy, especially after speculation that stalled contract negotiations for linebacker Thomas Davis and tight end Greg Olsen may have contributed to the abrupt firing of Gettleman — speculation that both players denied:

In Gettleman’s time as general manager, he did reach long-term extensions with core players like Cam Newton, Luke Kuechly and Kawann Short. But Steve Smith, Josh Norman and DeAngelo Williams all left during his tenure and celebrated his firing Monday.

Hurney spent 11 years as general manager of the team before he was fired during the 2012 season. If the goal of his time as the interim GM in 2017 is to settle some of the contract talks that Gettleman couldn’t, it seems like he’s off to a good start.

(Adam Stites)