Boomer Esiason played 14 seasons in the NFL until 1997. On his WFAN radio show, ‘Boomer and Carton,’ the former quarterback discussed the recent study about the high incidence of degenerative brain disease among NFL players’ brains and said he – and every other player – probably have it.
Esiason was discussing the findings of Boston University School of Medicine and the VA Boston Healthcare System’s study that 110 out of 111 former NFL football players who donated their brains to science showed signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), per USA Today.
“If I died tomorrow and my brain basically was taken and researched and I was found to have CTE, which I most likely have … I think all football players probably have it,” Esiason said.
In July, Esiason’s remarks were echoed by Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who referred to the study when saying it might be his final season playing football. “This shows there’s nothing to mess with,” he said of the study to the Tribune-Review. “If you want to mess with your brain, you can’t put a new one in. You can’t have a brain transplant. If you want to mess with your brain, go ahead. I’m not going to.”
The NFL maintains its position that more conclusive research is needed about the incidence of CTE among football players. However the league is currently paying out a $1 billion lawsuit to former players and wives of deceased former players. The suit, filed in 2011, said the league didn’t warn former players about the dangers of concussions.
Esiason indicated that the studies, lawsuits and awareness will make football better moving forward.
“The more we learn about our brains, the better it is for the guys who are playing today,” Esiason said. “The good news for the guys who are playing today, especially those who are playing for a long period of time, is they get paid a hell of a lot more money than we did. They have much better benefits and retirement benefits than we do.”