GREEN BAY, Wis. - A new study, published Tuesday, found that 110 of 111 former football players' brains had chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE. The study's release coincided with the beginning of NFL training camps around the country this week. In Green Bay, wide receiver Jordy Nelson weighed in on the findings, saying he will still let his sons play football -- once they're old enough.
"Right now, my wife and I are very comfortable with what I do. I've said before, if my son wants to play football, he'll play football, but he won't be doing it until 7 or 8 (years old). I think that's where we need to make a difference is if CTE's becoming a problem," Nelson said after the first Packers training camp practice Thursday. "From what I've understood, it's not the big one-hit concussion, it's the accumulative pounding on the brain, and I don't understand why we have kids playing at 8 years old.
Some have expressed doubts about the study's bias because it exclusively examined brains donated by families or medical examiners of the deceased who suspected researchers would find brain damage evidence or confirm CTE, which can only be posthumously diagnosed.
"I think some of the studies and some of the media coverage is overblown, to be honest with you," Nelson said. "Now, I'm not totally disclaiming that there's none of that going on in football, but I think there's certain ways to deal with it and we can't just sit back and accept what's going to happen. I can't sit back and say I play football, I get hit in the head, I'm going to get CTE."
Nelson said that proper recovery after concussions and injuries are key with preventing major head trauma in football. He also said alternatives to learning the game, like flag football and non-contact camps, are important for young, developing players.
Others in the football world have had different reactions, including Baltimore Ravens offensive lineman John Urschel, who abruptly informed Coach John Harbaugh of his retirement 90 minutes before practice Thursday.