Eagles

Eagles react to new study showing CTE found in majority of football players' brains

Eagles react to new study showing CTE found in majority of football players' brains

CHICAGO -- Research on 202 former football players found evidence of brain disease in nearly all of them, from athletes in the NFL, college and even high school.

It's the largest update on chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, a brain disease linked with repeated head blows.

But the report doesn't confirm that the condition is common in all football players; it reflects high occurrence in samples at a Boston brain bank that studies CTE. Many donors or their families contributed because of the players' repeated concussions and troubling symptoms before death.

"There are many questions that remain unanswered," said lead author Dr. Ann McKee, a Boston University neuroscientist. "How common is this" in the general population and all football players?

"How many years of football is too many?" and "What is the genetic risk? Some players do not have evidence of this disease despite long playing years," she noted.

It's also uncertain if some players' lifestyle habits -- alcohol, drugs, steroids, diet -- might somehow contribute, McKee said.

Dr. Munro Cullum, a neuropsychologist at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, emphasized that the report is based on a selective sample of men who were not necessarily representative of all football players. He said problems other than CTE might explain some of their most common symptoms before death -- depression, impulsivity and behavior changes. He was not involved in the report.

McKee said research from the brain bank may lead to answers and an understanding of how to detect the disease in life, "while there's still a chance to do something about it." There's no known treatment.

The study came out just days before Eagles' veterans report to training camp, causing Chris Long and Brandon Brooks to react on Twitter.

The strongest scientific evidence says CTE can only be diagnosed by examining brains after death, although some researchers are experimenting with tests performed on the living. Many scientists believe that repeated blows to the head increase risks for developing CTE, leading to progressive loss of normal brain matter and an abnormal buildup of a protein called tau. Combat veterans and athletes in rough contact sports like football and boxing are among those thought to be most at risk.

The new report was published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

CTE was diagnosed in 177 former players or nearly 90 percent of brains studied. That includes 110 of 111 brains from former NFL players; 48 of 53 college players; nine of 14 semi-professional players, seven of eight Canadian Football league players and three of 14 high school players. The disease was not found in brains from two younger players.

A panel of neuropathologists made the diagnosis by examining brain tissue, using recent criteria from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, McKee said.

The NFL issued a statement saying these reports are important for advancing science related to head trauma and said the league "will continue to work with a wide range of experts to improve the health of current and former NFL athletes."

After years of denials, the NFL acknowledged a link between head blows and brain disease and agreed in a $1 billion settlement to compensate former players who had accused the league of hiding the risks.

The journal update includes many previously reported cases, including former NFL players Bubba Smith, Ken Stabler, Junior Seau and Dave Duerson.

New ones include retired tight end Frank Wainright, whose 10-year NFL career included stints with the Miami Dolphins, New Orleans Saints and Baltimore Ravens. Wainright died last October at age 48 from a heart attack triggered by bleeding in the brain, said his wife, Stacie. She said he had struggled almost eight years with frightening symptoms including confusion, memory loss and behavior changes.

Wainright played before the league adopted stricter safety rules and had many concussions, she said. He feared CTE and was adamant about donating his brain, she said.

"A lot of families are really tragically affected by it -- not even mentioning what these men are going through and they're really not sure what is happening to them. It's like a storm that you can't quite get out of," his wife said.

Frank Wycheck, another former NFL tight end, said he worries that concussions during his nine-year career -- the last seven with the Tennessee Titans -- have left him with CTE and he plans to donate his brain to research.

"Some people have heads made of concrete, and it doesn't really affect some of those guys," he said. "But CTE is real."

"I know I'm suffering through it, and it's been a struggle and I feel for all the guys out there that are going through this," said Wycheck, 45.

In the new report, McKee and colleagues found the most severe disease in former professional players; mild disease was found in all three former high school players diagnosed with the disease. Brain bank researchers previously reported that the earliest known evidence of CTE was found in a high school athlete who played football and other sports who died at age 18. He was not included in the current report.

The average age of death among all players studied was 66. There were 18 suicides among the 177 diagnosed.

Eagles Inactives: Despite return to practice, Ronald Darby remains out vs. Redskins

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USA Today Images

Eagles Inactives: Despite return to practice, Ronald Darby remains out vs. Redskins

Maybe next week. 

While Ronald Darby came into Monday night listed as questionable, he's not quite ready to return quite yet. He's inactive for Monday Night Football. 

Darby returned to practice this week for the first time since he dislocated his right ankle at FedEx Field in the opener against Washington. He was the only member of the team who was limited in Saturday's light practice. 

At the time of the injury, it looked like it would be season-ending, but the team was confident he would return and expected that return to come in 4-6 weeks. Darby was not made available to reporters this week. 

Mychal Kendricks is a surprise inactive on Monday night. He popped up on the injury report during the week with a hamstring injury and had been listed as questionable. Kendricks is coming off a terrific game in Carolina. With Kendricks out, Nate Gerry is active. Gerry, a draft pick, was signed off the practice squad earlier this week. 

In addition to Darby and Kendricks, the following players are inactive: Shelton Gibson, Justin Hamilton, Steven Means, Elijah Qualls, Chance Warmack. 

Meanwhile, Jordan Hicks (calf) and Wendell Smallwood (knee) are both active against Washington. They had been listed as questionable. 

Hicks left the Carolina game early with a calf injury he suffered during the game. He said it happened because he was overcompensating for his injured ankle. On Saturday he assured reporters he would play on Monday night. When asked if he was 100 percent, he asked who is? 

Smallwood hasn't played in the last two games after suffering a knee injury against the Chargers on Oct. 1. Head coach Doug Pederson originally said the plan was to bring him along slowly this week, but Smallwood was a full participant all week. Getting him back should be a big deal. He had taken the role of third-down back after the loss of Darren Sproles. 

Warmack actually started the game against the Giants at left guard but was beaten out by Stefen Wisniewski. Isaac Seumalo, who began the season as the LG but was pulled, is active again on Monday. Seumalo was inactive for two games until he suited up against Carolina in the last game. 

Defensive tackle Destiny Vaeao is active for the first time since the opener, when he suffered a wrist injury. His coaches praised Vaeao this summer, saying he had a great training camp. 

Here are Washington's inactives: S DeShazor Everett, CB Josh Norman, LB Josh Harvey-Clemons, G Tyler Catalina, OT Ty Nsekhe, TE Jeremy Sprinkle, DL AJ Francis. 

Norman was ruled out on Saturday. Meanwhile, offensive tackle Trent Williams (knee) and Bashaud Breeland (knee) are both active. 

Nigel Bradham catches a break in loaded gun case

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Nigel Bradham catches a break in loaded gun case

It's been a positive few weeks for Eagles linebacker Nigel Bradham.

He had arguably the best game of his NFL career in Week 6 against the Panthers, and he is now no longer facing second-degree misdemeanor charges for a legal issue dating back to 2016, Miami-Dade County court records show.

Bradham had a court date at 9:30 a.m. Monday; he was presumably represented by his attorney. 

TMZ Sports first reported that charges were dropped. 

Bradham, you'll remember, was arrested around this time last year at Miami International Airport for carrying a loaded weapon in a seldom-used zippered compartment of his backpack. 

"How does that happen?" Bradham said last year. "I forgot — it's as simple as that."

He's now off the hook.

"The state had no case against him and they found that it wasn't something he should be criminally sanctioned for," Bradham's attorney, Adam Swickle, told TMZ, also adding that Bradham had a valid concealed weapons permit.

The incident did prompt defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz to offer maybe his best quote.

"You do dumbass things," Schwartz said, "pretty soon, you're going to be labeled as a dumbass."

In July, Bradham also avoided punishment for a felony battery charge he faced for an altercation with a Miami hotel worker in July of 2016. This July, he entered a deferred prosecution program to avoid jail time and to stay out of court. 

Without the legal issues hovering over his head, Bradham is playing his best football.