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Four of Five NFL Players Distrust Team Doctor, Survey Says

NFL Players Association Executive Director DeMaurice Smith
NFL Players Association Executive Director DeMaurice Smith stated about 78 percent of players who responded to a late-season survey said they had no trust in their teams' medical staff. Photographer: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg

Almost 80 percent of National Football League players don’t trust their teams’ medical staff, according to a survey by their union.

“The only people that might be news for is people who don’t play football,” DeMaurice Smith, executive director of the NFL Players Association, said at a news conference.

About 78 percent of players who responded to a late-season survey said they had no trust in their teams’ medical staff, with another 15 percent saying they had very little trust. Only 3 percent indicated some or a lot of trust in team doctors.

Players showed more faith in the trainers that handle the day-to-day wounds of a 16-game NFL season, with 43 percent saying they were satisfied with their training staff and 50 percent saying they had little or no trust in their trainers.

The union hasn’t shown the survey to the league and didn’t mention it during a Jan. 25 meeting that lasted “several hours,” Greg Aiello, a spokesman for the NFL, said in an e-mail.

Smith said the survey was a first step in new research on player injuries and their medical care, including a $100 million study by Harvard University of the long-term health of NFL players.

The study, which will be funded from the players’ share of revenue under the league’s collective bargaining agreement, is a 10-year effort designed to improve injury prevention, create new treatment and diagnostic tools and improve the quality of life for athletes at all levels, according to Lee Nadler, a dean at Harvard Medical School.

“I’ve been a doctor a long time, 35 years at Harvard, and never have I seen such a challenge,” Nadler said at the news conference.

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