Study: Brain diseases more common in retired NFL players - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

Study: Brain diseases more common in retired NFL players

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The NFL releases new information about former players and the risk of neurological diseases later in life. It was a first ever government study that found retired football players are 3-4 times more likely to die from brain diseases compared to the general population.

For a sport that dates back 100 years, what has changed can't be counted. But if we look back just 25 years, one big change are the players.

"20 years ago, I wouldn't have thought we'd have linebackers that weigh 265 pounds and run a 4.5 second 40 yard dash. That's unheard of," Former NFL player Neil Graff said.

Neil Graff says what's also becoming more common are the effects of the game, especially when it comes to the brain.  

"It's very sad, and scary, for me as someone who doesn't know what the future holds from a health perspective," Neil Graff said.

Graff's career expands through the 1970s with the Vikings, Patriots and the Steelers. While he's had several concussions over the years, there's no way of knowing what the future has in store.

"I laugh about it but there's some reality to it too and that's every time I forget something now, I say to myself 'uh oh, is this the early onset?' and I know we forget things, but that comes to the forefront of my mind now right away," Graff said.

The NFL is starting to take more notice to the injuries of the brain in the health of former players and the injuries of current ones.

"We can't make the players stronger, weaker, slower. That's an evolution of man. But we can improve the equipment," he said.

Graff says the NFL should start improving with things like helmets.

"Unless the NFL does something about the impact situation with equipment, the problem could get worse and worse," Graff said.

Last week, the NFL announced its pledge of $30 million for medical research with regard to brain injuries. The league hopes to develop new information to respond to the heavy concerns.

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