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NFL exec admits to CTE-football head trauma link

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WASHINGTON (AP) An NFL official has acknowledged a link between football and the brain disease CTE for the first time.

Jeff Miller, the NFL’s senior vice president for health and safety, spoke about the connection during an appearance Monday at a congressional committee’s round table discussion about concussions.

Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Illinois) asked Miller: “Do you think there is a link between football and degenerative brain disorders like CTE?”

Miller began by referencing the work of Boston University neuropathologist Dr. Ann McKee, who has found CTE in the brains of 90 former pro football players.

“Well, certainly, Dr. McKee’s research shows that a number of retired NFL players were diagnosed with CTE, so the answer to that question is certainly `yes,’ but there are also a number of questions that come with that,” Miller said.

Schakowsky repeated the question: “Is there a link?”

“Yes. Sure,” Miller responded.

The NFL has not previously linked playing football to chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a disease linked to repeated brain trauma and associated with symptoms such as memory loss, depression and progressive dementia. It can only be detected after death. Among the players found to have CTE in their brains were Hall of Famers Junior Seau and Ken Stabler.

During Super Bowl week, Dr. Mitch Berger, a member of the NFL’s head, neck and spine committee, would not draw a direct line from football to CTE.

Miller appeared at the discussion of concussions before the House Committee on Energy & Commerce. ESPN first reported Miller’s appearance before the committee.

Last month, Berger, chair of the department of neurological surgery at the University of California-San Francisco, repeatedly said that while the types of degenerative changes to the brain associated with CTE have been found in late football players, such signs have also been found “in all spectrums of life.”

Tao, a protein that indicates the presence of CTE, “is found in brains that have traumatic injuries,” Berger said, “whether it’s from football, whether it’s from car accidents, whether it’s from gunshot wounds, domestic violence – it remains to be seen.”

Miller said he was “not going to speak for Dr. Berger” when asked by Schakowsky about those comments.

Just before Miller spoke, McKee was asked the same question about the link between hits in football and CTE. She responded “unequivocally” there is, and went into details about her research findings.

Miller told the committee that the entire scope of the issue needs to be addressed.

“You asked the question whether I thought there was a link,” he said. “Certainly based on Dr. McKee’s research, there’s a link, because she’s found CTE in a number of retired football players. I think that the broader point, and the one that your question gets to, is what that necessarily means and where do we go from here with that information.”

Bennett doesn’t fear backlash for skipping White House trip

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HOUSTON (AP) Patriots tight end Martellus Bennett says he is not worried about upsetting team owner Robert Kraft by not attending New England’s trip to the White House as Super Bowl champions.

Bennett said after the Patriots’ 34-28 win over the Falcons on Sunday night that he’s “not going to go” to the traditional meet-and-greet with the president. It will be the first visit of a Super Bowl champion to Washington since Donald Trump was sworn into office.

Trump’s positions have alienated some athletes, which has raised questions about whether some might choose to skip the trip while the new president is in office.

But Bennett said he isn’t concerned about it and thinks the team believes “in whatever I want to do.”

Kraft is a supporter of Trump and attended a celebration dinner in Washington for him the night before his inauguration.

Patriots’ Tom Brady earns 4th Super Bowl MVP trophy with epic comeback

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HOUSTON (AP) The greatest quarterback in NFL history led the biggest Super Bowl comeback to be the MVP on Sunday night.

Tom Brady rallied New England from a 25-point third-quarter deficit for a 34-28 win over the Atlanta Falcons in the first overtime game in Super Bowl history to earn his fifth Super Bowl title and fourth MVP trophy.

“They’re all sweet,” he said. “They’re all different and this was just an incredible team and I’m just happy to be a part of it,” he said.

Brady threw touchdown passes of 5 and 6 yards in the second half and tied things at 28-28 when he connected withDanny Amendola on a 2-point conversion with 57 seconds left.

He then directed the drive in overtime which ended with a 2-yard run by James White to make the Patriots the first team to win a Super Bowl after trailing by more than 10 points.

“We all brought each other back,” he said. “We never felt out of it. It was a tough battle.”

His performance certainly wasn’t without its struggles. His incredible second half and overtime came after a first half where the Patriots managed just three points and he threw an interception which Robert Alford returned 82 yards for a touchdown. He was hurried and harassed for much of the games. The Falcons sacked him five times and hit him on another eight occasions.

He noted the beating he took when he was trying to recount the details of the comeback and couldn’t remember what the score was at one point in the rally.

“There was a lot of (stuff) that happened tonight,” he said. “I got hit pretty hard.”

His 466 yards passing are a Super Bowl record, surpassing the 414 yards Kurt Warner had 17 years ago. He also set a record for most passes completed in a Super Bowl with 43 and most attempts with 62.

He is the first to play in seven Super Bowls and the victory ties him with Charles Haley for most Super Bowl rings.

After all Brady has done in his career, was this his finest moment?

“Tom’s had a lot of great ones,” coach Bill Belichick said. “But, yeah tonight was one of them.”

It’s a triumphant end to a difficult season for Brady, who missed the first four games because of his “Deflategate” suspension and dealt with his mother Galynn Brady suffering through an undisclosed illness. The Super Bowl was the first game she’s attended all season.

“They’re all happy,” he said fighting back tears. “It’s nice to have everybody here and it’s going to be a great celebration tonight.”

He shared a quick moment with her right after the game, but was looking forward to more time with her in the upcoming days.

“It’s kind of madness after the game so I didn’t get much quality time with her but we’ll get it this week,” he said.

But he certainly wasn’t asking for sympathy for his rough road to this title though, chuckling when someone asked about the adversity the Patriots have gone through in the past couple of years.

“We’ve done pretty good over the last few years … so I don’t think anyone’s feeling bad for the Patriots,” he said. “I don’t think anyone feels bad for the Patriots.”

Brady also collected the MVP trophy in 2001, 2003 and 2014.

“It was just a lot of mental toughness by our team and we’re going to remember this one for the rest of our lives,” Brady said.

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