Three active players in the National Football League have agreed to donate their brains and spinal tissue after they die to the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy at Boston University (BU) School of Medicine. The center, profiled in Science last month, is a collaboration between researchers at BU and the non-profit Sports Legacy Institute, begun by Chris Nowinski, a former pro wrestler who cut his career short after a disabling series of concussions.
Nowinski has persuaded well over 100 professional athletes to donate their brains for research on the long-term effects of repetitive head injuries. Researchers at BU and elsewhere have been finding evidence of neurodegeneration, as well as mood and memory problems, in retired pro athletes in contact sports. Earlier this month, researchers in West Virginia announced an independent initiative to study brain injuries in pro athletes.
The three new additions are the first active NFL players to sign on with the Boston group. They are: linebacker Lofa Tatupu of the Seattle Seahawks, receiver Sean Morey of the Arizona Cardinals, and Baltimore Ravens center Matt Birk (pictured, via http://www.flickr.com/photos/keithallison/, CC BY-SA 2.0 )