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February 27, 2018

Long-term Mortality in NFL Professional Football Players: No Significant Increase, but Questions Remain

Author Affiliations
  • 1McKnight Brain Institute, Department of Neurology, University of Florida College of Medicine, Gainesville
  • 2Department of Cognitive Health and Psychology, University of Florida, Gainesville
  • 3College of Public Health and Health Professions, University of Florida, Gainesville
JAMA. 2018;319(8):773-775. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.20885

The many positive health benefits of regular exercise, including longer lifespan, outweigh the risks of being physically active from both an individual and a population standpoint. Although the risks of extreme sports and other activities with inherent risks are tolerated by participants and fans, there has been a resurgence of interest in the health of those who participate in contact sports, notably professional American football, as well as hockey, lacrosse, soccer, rugby, and other sports in which concussion or other traumatic brain injury (TBI) is more likely to occur.1 While separated shoulders, torn ligaments, and broken ankles are tolerated as the “breaks of the game,” the realization that both adverse short-term (concussion) and long-term (cognitive, neuromuscular, or movement disorder) consequences occur, coupled with intense public and media attention, have elevated concern about mortality among professional athletes.