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NFL gives $30 million to NIH

The National Football League (NFL) is pledging $30 million to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as part of its research to benefit athletes and the general population, including members of the military.

“Our commitment here is to hopefully help set the standard and lead the way in research about head injuries, and we’re doing it with the leading scientists,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a telephone with the Washington Post on Wednesday.

Mr. Goodell said the funding to the NIH, which is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, would assist in funding brain research, specifically chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), concussion management and treatment. The study is also aimed at further understanding the relationship between traumatic brain injury and late-life neurodegenerative disorders. The NIH is considered one of the world’s foremost medical research centers.

The announcement comes as the NFL opened its 2012 season on Wednesday. The League has come under increasing scrutiny regarding its commitment to NFL athletes suffering from brain-related trauma.  Brain injuries are common in professional American football players. Finding effective rehabilitation strategies can have widespread implications not only for retired players but also for patients with traumatic brain injury and substance abuse problems, according to the NIH.

Speaking with the Washington Post, Mr. Goodell said the NFL spent months discussing the deal with the NIH, adding that the deal will do a lot to progress the NFL’s understanding of brain trauma.

“Our goal is to aggressively partner with the best scientists to understand more about the brain and brain injuries, to make things safer for our athletes and for others,” said Mr. Goodell. “If we can learn more about the brain, we can not only make football safer, but make things safer for other sports and other walks of life.”