Two games this Sunday will decide which teams make it to the Super Bowl.  To get there, a lot of young men have worked tirelessly since grade school to develop the strength and skills required to play at this level.  Along the way there have countless collisions and blows to the head that we now know extract a horrible price over time.

Now a new study has found that it is those repeated hits to the head --and not necessarily concussions-- that lead to the onset of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE.)   CTE is the devastating neurodegenerative disease traced back to the head traumas experienced by football players, soccer players , boxers and other athletes, as well as combat veterans.

Boston University School of Medicine researchers told The Washington Post, "The concussion is really irrelevant for triggering CTE... It's really the hit that counts” and so that brings us Hall of Famers Nick Buoniconti and Harry Carson.  They are part of a collective group urging that kids not play tackle football until age 14.

They're working with the Concussion Legacy Foundation to support the new parent education initiative, called Flag Football Under 14.

And The 77-year-old Buoniconti ought to know – he’s been diagnosed with dementia and probable chronic traumatic encephalopathy saying,  "I made the mistake starting tackle football at nine years old. Now, CTE has taken my life away. Youth tackle football is all risk with no reward."

The Boston University researchers advocate for no tackle football before age 14 because children's bodies, particularly their necks and upper bodies, aren't strong enough to counteract the head bobbling and shaking of the brain that takes place during tackles. (CNN)


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