Sunday is a big day for fans across the country as our favorite football teams face off for week one. While we open a new season, there are new health statistics about players that might surprise you.
The NFL released details from its first ever government study saying former NFL players are 3-4 times more likely to die from brain diseases compared to the general population.
Diseases like Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, ALS and other neurodegenerative diseases.
One former NFL player is Sioux Falls native Neil Graff who played six years in the NFL. He was a quarterback for the Vikings, the Patriots and the Steelers in the 1970s.
When he hears about the health statistics, he's not surprised because it's not so much the game that has changed but the players.
They're getting stronger, bigger and faster on and off the field therefor the impact is greater during the games.
When he talks with his former teammates, he sees the early onset of dementia and other common diseases and knows it's a big issue. With the evolution of today's players getting stronger, he says the risk isn't getting any smaller.
"Another 20 years down the road, as these big players come to the forefront, we'll see more problems unless some new measures are taken to restrict the brain injury in the NFL and in football in general," Neil Graff said.
Last week, the NFL announced it has pledged $30 million for medical research to the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health in order to take the right steps in response to concerns about head injuries.