NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said Tuesday that it's "absurd" to say there's a relationship between chronic traumatic encephalopathy and playing football.
Jones told reporters that he is not convinced that a link has been established, despite the NFL acknowledging for the first time last week that there is a link between football and CTE.
"We don't have that knowledge and background and scientifically, so there's no way in the world to say you have a relationship relative to anything here," Jones said at the annual league meeting, according to The Washington Post. "There's no research. There's no data … We're not disagreeing. We're just basically saying the same thing. We're doing a lot more. It's the kind of thing that you want to work … to prevent injury. A big part of this is prevention. But the other part of it is to basically understand that we don't know or have any idea that there is a consequence as to any type of head injury in the future."
Last week, Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Illinois) asked Jeff Miller, the NFL's senior vice president for health and safety, if there was a link between football and degenerative brain disorders during a congressional committee's round table discussion about concussions,
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.
Jones told reporters he wasn't disagreeing with Miller's comments, but didn't want to "get caught up in" the semantics of it.
"We as a league, we have not in any way changed our desire to do everything we can to make it safe, make it safe as to head injury. We hope and will support any data that would give us more insight into any short- and long-term consequences. We would support that," the Cowboys owner said.
Jones stated people shouldn't be making assumptions about head injuries.
"We want to continue to be safer and want to continue to support any type of research that would let us know what [the] consequences really are," he said. "In no way should we be basically making assumptions with no more data than we've got about the consequences of a head injury."
Jones said it was "absurd" to think there's enough data to establish a link between playing football and CTE.
"There's no data that in any way creates a knowledge. There's no way that you could have made a comment that there is an association and some type of assertion. In most things, you have to back it up by studies. And in this particular case, we all know how medicine is," Jones said. "Medicine is evolving. I grew up being told that aspirin was not good. I'm told that one a day is good for your … I'm saying that changed over the years as we've had more research and knowledge.
"So we are very supportive of the research…. We have for years been involved in trying to make it safer, safer as it pertains to head injury. We have millions of people that have played this game, have millions of people that are at various ages right now that have no issues at all. None at all. So that's where we are. That didn't alter at all what we're doing about it. We're gonna do everything we can to understand it better and make it safer."
Last year, researchers from the Veterans Affairs Department and Boston University found evidence of CTE in 96 percent of NFL players they examined.
Before last week, the NFL did not previously link playing football to CTE, 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.
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