Super Bowl-related news offers fresh reminders about brain injury

Some in Texas might consider it sacrilege to say that not everyone in the state is a big football fan. The sport is important to many, but of equal importance to many others is the evidence of the kind of brain damage players of all ages can suffer from the hard hits they endure.

To be fair, serious brain trauma can occur in a lot of different ways. Motor vehicle accidents are a common source, but all it might take is a fall on a slippery floor in a store. And head injuries aren’t exclusive to football. Athletes in soccer, hockey and baseball run risks of taking repetitive head hits. Whether brain trauma results from a car wreck or some other incident, if it can be traced back to someone else’s negligence, that person should expect to be held liable.

Football does stand apart from other sports in that one of the specific features of the game is bodies ramming repeatedly into other bodies headfirst.

The link between sports and brain damage is nothing new. Doctors have been diagnosing boxers as being punch-drunk or suffering from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) since the 1920s. But it has only been since 2005 that the condition has been clearly associated with football.

CTE can only be confirmed by a brain examination after death and as of the end of last year, exams of 91 former NFL players’ brains have found that 87 had suffered from CTE.

The mounting evidence of brain damage risks is spurring debate. Critics say the league is shirking its duty to protect players. That claim is one league officials continue to deny, and that claim has prompted some pundits to ask if officials aren’t suffering from a level of brain damage themselves.