“We need to understand what happens in the brain when it’s hit, and how many hits trigger these neurological effects,” said ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee Frank Pallone (D-NJ) in the opening remarks of the House Democrats meeting about brain injury in football and other contact sports on October 13, 2017. Held at the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington D.C., the forum focused on CTE and what the government can do to prevent it. It was a meeting of the Energy and Commerce Committee and the Judiciary Committee and featured 7 panelists – players, widows and researchers. It was a reaction to the recent release of a study with astonishing results. (Not only were 110 of 111 deceased NFL players found to have CTE, but so were 48 of 53 deceased college players and 3 deceased high school players.)
Those attending the forum were understandably shocked with these findings. Many asked what they could do to help. As Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I. – 1st District) said, “Just listening to the testimony and listening to what a serious issue this is and what the implications are for players, both young people and players who play in high school. If we can help in some way… then I am happy to do it.” True to his word, Cicilline, who played Pop Warner football as a youth, pledged to donate his brain for concussion research upon his death. (As his personal motto states, Cicilline “never quits“.)
Note: In the Washington Post article about this forum, Former player: Parents should be warned of football’s risks, the newspaper notes, “Republicans had no interest in convening a formal hearing on the subject.” This forum, however, was designed as a meeting of the House Democrats committee, therefore Republican attendance was not intended or desired. It is also noteworthy that, although they were invited, the NFL declined to participate.