Jim Irsay is the latest NFL owner to suggest that not enough research exists to link football to brain injuries.
“To try to tie football, like I said, to suicides or murders or what have you, I believe that is just so absurd as well and it is harmful to other diseases, harmful to things like … when you get into the use of steroids, when you get into substance abuse, you get into the illness of alcohol and addiction," Irsay, who owns the Colts, told the Sports Business Daily's Daniel Kaplan at last week's owners meetings. "It’s a shame that gets missed, because there [are] very deadly diseases there, for instance, like alcoholism and addiction. That gets pushed to the side and [a person] says, ‘Oh, no. Football.’ To me, that’s really absurd.”
(Two years ago, Irsay checked into a treatment facility shortly after he was arrested and charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated and four counts of possession of a controlled substance. The NFL later suspended him for the first six games of the 2014 season and fined him $500,000.)
Football, Irsay points out, is a physical sport.
“I believe this: that the game has always been a risk, you know, and the way certain people are," he said. "Look at it. You take an aspirin, I take an aspirin, it might give you extreme side effects of illness and your body … may reject it, where I would be fine. So there is so much we don’t know.”
“No, that's absurd," Cowboys owner Jerry Jones told the Washington Post last week about the relationship between chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) and playing football. "There's no data that in any way creates a knowledge. There's no way that you could have made a comment that there is an association and some type of assertion. In most things, you have to back it up by studies. And in this particular case, we all know how medicine is. Medicine is evolving."
And McNair added, "I think it's an important issue. I'm more concerned about the misconceptions people can have about it than I am about what's really taking place. We're studying this issue closely, more than anyone else. We've put up money for research before anyone else did. Our medical scientists still don't know what the cause of CTE is. It appears that if you've had multiple concussions from whatever you've been doing, riding a bicycle, skateboarding, it's not just football, that there's a possibility it could lead to CTE."
"People that say, 'I won't let my son play [football]' are fools," Arians told TheMMQB.com. "We have this fear of concussion that is real, but not all of those statistics, I think, can prove anything."
And earlier this month, during a roundtable discussion on concussion research with the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, NFL senior VP for Health and Safety Policy Jeff Miller was asked if he thought there was a link between football and CTE.
“The answer to that question is certainly yes," he said.
It was the first time the league publicly acknowledged the link.
“One thing I have always felt strongly about, that [is] to say, ‘Oh, someone knew something and they didn’t tell way back in the ’60s or ’70s,’ that’s just not true," Irsay said. "I was there. I know that’s a lie. You know no one knew anything. The only thing we know and always knew is when you strap on that helmet and go out on the field, boy you know you are taking a risk, but the reward is something. It’s worth it."