The National Football League has pledged $30 million to the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health, dedicating the largest philanthropic gift in its 92-year history to fighting serious medical conditions in athletes.
The U.S.’s most-popular sports league is the founding donor to a new Sports and Health Research Program that may study head trauma, links between brain injuries and Alzheimer’s Disease, chronic degenerative joint disease, heart disease in athletes and even heat and hydration, the foundation and the league said in separate news release.
“Findings from this research will provide us with better ways to detect, diagnose and treat these conditions, and in some cases, even prevent their occurrence,” Dr. Story Landis, director of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, said in the NIH release.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said specific areas of the studies were being worked out. They may include sudden cardiac death in young athletes, chronic pain, and detection and health effects of performance-enhancing drugs including human growth hormone.
“We hope this grant will help accelerate the medical community’s pursuit of pioneering research to enhance the health of athletes past, present and future,” Goodell said in the league statement. “This research will extend beyond the NFL playing field and benefit athletes at all levels and others, including members of our military.”
The NFL is being sued by more than 2,000 players who say the league negligently failed to inform its athletes of the link between repeated hits to the head and long-term brain injuries, including early-onset Alzheimer’s, dementia and chronic traumatic encephalopathy. The league has denied those claims.