On the same day that Dr. Bennet Omalu of “Concussion” fame opined that O.J. Simpson suffers from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, Stanford Medical Center Professor Professor of Anesthesiology, Perioperative and Pain MedicineEd Riley (above) tells the San Jose Mercury News that despite what he deems “substantial risk” for professional footballers, he’s ok with his son suiting up for Whitworth University.
Riley, who played quarterback for Whitworth, veers from the hard-line, anti-football sentiment in the medical community. He isn’t convinced that a limited football career — high school only — poses a greater long-term risk of brain damage than other activities favored by adolescent boys.
The only known data on the topic is hardly current: It’s from a Mayo Clinic study on high school players in Minnesota in the 1940s and 50s. The study found no elevated risk for degenerative neurological disease, although the lack of facemasks in that era likely limited the number of helmet-to-helmet collisions.
“You have to put it in perspective,” Riley said of high school football. “There’s risk, but no more than doing other things.”
Could adding four years of collisions in college football elevate his son’s chances for brain damage down the road?
“Clearly, there are risks,” Riley said, “but it’s a risk that for him is worth taking.”