Ex-NFLers three times more likely to die from brain disease than public

Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall has impressed in practice this week. (JOHN SOMMERS...

Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall has impressed in practice this week. (JOHN SOMMERS II/Reuters file photo)

RYAN WOLSTAT, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:23 PM ET

The results of a new study on brain disease did not exactly come as a surprise, yet they were troubling nonetheless.

According to the study of former NFL players done by the journal Neurology, the players were three times more likely than non-players to die from Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Lou Gehrig’s disease.

It was merely the most recent report to link the NFL game to the diseases.

The report was based on a study of more than 3,400 NFL players who played at least five seasons between 1959 and 1988. Of those players, 334 had died by late 2007.

One of the three diseases was listed on their death certificates as the cause of death, about three times the rate for American men.

Though the researchers were careful not to definitively link head injuries and blows to the head that come with the territory in professional football, even the most ardent football supporter recognizes that many more reports will come out down the line indicating that is the case.

Some suicides of former players also have been speculated to have been linked to repeated head injuries suffered while playing the game.

Coincidentally, the NFL announced on Wednesday a $30-million US donation for medical research to the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health.

STEELER ON THE MEND

Don’t count Rashard Mendenhall out for Week 1 just yet.

Mendenhall, who tore his ACL in January, surprisingly is looking great for the Steelers and went through a full practice on Wednesday.

According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Mendenhall was working with the regulars and looked great.

Not bad, considering his status for the entire season was in doubt at one point.

MJD UNDERSTANDS

Maurice Jones-Drew understands that he’s the backup following his holdout, even though he led the league in rushing last season.

Jones-Drew will be the third-down option behind Rashad Jennings this week.

“I have to work to get my job back. That’s all it is,” Jones-Drew told the Florida Times-Union.

“Nobody has ever given me anything so I’m used to it. I like it because the competition is going to be great.”

RYAN BACKS SANCHEZ

New York Jets coach Rex Ryan remains a Mark Sanchez backer.

“As a rookie, it was like he was looked as a weakness of our football team,” Ryan told the New York Daily News.

“I said there was going to be a day when he’s looked as a strength, not a weakness. I think that day is right now.”

Ryan added that he understood why many have and will continue to call for Tim Tebow over Sanchez, but reiterated that Sanchez was his starter.

QUICK HITS

Washington safety Brandon Meriweather could miss two more games with a knee injury … Marshawn Lynch is day-to-day and likely won’t know if he is playing on Sunday until gametime. Same goes for Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson … According to CSNNewengland.com, Kellen Winslow failed a physical, which is why New England signed tight end Michael Hoomanawanui instead … The Dallas Cowboys once again are the most valuable team in football. According to Forbes, the Cowboys are worth $2.1 billion, more than any other North American team and second only to England’s Manchester United overall. New England ($1.64B), Washington ($1.6B) and the New York Giants ($1.47B) were next on the list … Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson has been released form hospital after being admitted last week … Standout Green Bay wide receiver Greg Jennings told ESPN Radio he is not sure if he will return to the team next year since he is a free agent. “Will you be here? If I don’t get a contract, no. Do I want to be here? Absolutely,” Jennings said.

BETTER WATCH OUT, A.J.

It’s never too early for a little trash-talking.

Especially not when the hard-hitting Baltimore Ravens are involved.

Ravens safety Bernard Pollard issued a warning to Cincinnati Bengals receiver A.J. Green this week ahead of Monday’s opener.

“When we see receivers come across the middle, if we are in the right defence, we are going to smack you, and we are going to let you know that you came across the middle on the wrong team,” Pollard told reporters.

For Baltimore “the right defence” is almost any of them. The team always seems to punish opponents, though the safety usually doing the smashing is veteran Ed Reed, not Pollard.

With opponents focusing on the star-laden Ravens defensive line and linebackers — including an apparently rejuvenated Ray Lewis — Pollard could get a chance to do some damage of his own.

Especially if Andy Dalton and Green try to challenge him.

Green didn’t excel against the Ravens last season, making only two of his 65 receptions on the season against them for 26 yards.

Pollard didn’t only talk smack though, he also acknowledged Green’s talent and said he was dangerous and a player the defence will be focusing on.

Lucky guy.


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