The Pro Football Concussion Report

A Fan's Look at Head Injuries and the Concussion Crisis in Football

Game Changers – The Boston University NFL Concussion Story

Dr. Ann McKee with the brain of 45 yr. old former Houston Oiler John Grimsley
Dr. Ann McKee with the brain of 45 yr. old former Houston Oiler John Grimsley    (Vernon Doucette - BU)


I’m from a small town in Wisconsin. NFL headquarters is on Park Avenue. You get photographed and IDed on the way in. You’re taken to this big mahogany boardroom with Vince Lombardi posters everywhere and a bunch of men sitting around a big table. I insisted Chris come. It was intimidating. I was the only woman. There was a lot of testosterone in the room. They were very skeptical. One of them said I was making up the disease. They were polite, but you felt like it was falling on deaf ears.  ~  Dr. Ann McKee, Neuropathologist – Boston Umiversity, on her first presentation to the NFL in 2009


At the core of the NFL concussion litigation is the emergence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) as a possible outcome of playing years of tackle football. And no institution is likely more responsible for propelling CTE into the spotlight than Boston University and their team at the Alzheimer’s Disease Center. In a 2010 piece titled Game Changers for BU’s magazine, Bostonia, writer Caleb Daniloff profiles the beginning of the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy (CSTE).

CSTE was created as a collaboration between Dr. Robert Stern’s Alzheimer program at Boston University, Chris Nowinski’s Sports Legacy Institute (SLI) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). At its inception, BU already had acquired Dr. Ann McKee, while Nowinski’s partner at SLI was Dr. Robert Cantu. Their original goal of education and awareness has been fueled by the NFL concussion litigation and in only 6 years has made an enormous impact into the hearts and minds of football players, fans and the general public.


Return to Home