Sept. 15, 2014 -- One in three retired National Football League players will develop neurological problems, and those problems will develop at "notably younger ages" than is normal, numbers released Friday show.
The statistics formed the basis of a settlement the NFL reached with 5,000 former players who sued the league claiming the long-term damage of concussions was hidden from them, The New York Times reported. The settlement set up a $675 million pool to cover conditions linked to head traumas that the players suffered during their careers.
The statistics seem to confirm what scientists have suspected for years, which is that playing the high-contact sport of football raises the risk of developing conditions like chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disease that can be identified only in an autopsy.
"We have come a long way since the days of outright denial," Chris Nowinski, executive director of the Sports Legacy Institute, which has pressured the NFL on this point for years, told the newspaper. "The number of former players predicted to develop dementia is staggering, and that total does not even include former players who develop mood and behavior disorders and die prior to developing the cognitive symptoms associated with CTE."