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E&C Democratic Leaders to NFL: Where’s the Money?

Jul 26, 2017
Press Release
NFL Has Yet to Fulfill Funding Commitment to NIH for Medical Research

Energy and Commerce Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Health Subcommittee Ranking Member Gene Green (D-TX), Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Ranking Member Diana DeGette (D-CO), and Digital Commerce & Consumer Protection Subcommittee Ranking Member Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) sent a letter to National Football League (NFL) Commissioner Roger Goodell today requesting information on a commitment from the league to donate $30 million to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to support research into health issues affecting athletes.  The request comes one day after a report was released that examined the brains of 111 former NFL players and determined that 110 of those players had the degenerative brain disease Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE).

In 2012, the NFL agreed to provide $30 million in funding to NIH to support research on medical conditions such as CTE that affect athletes.  However, the NFL has only donated approximately $12 million to NIH for such research, with the agreement set to expire at the end of next month.   With the approaching expiration of the agreement, the four Committee leaders are interested in the NFL’s plans for the remaining $18 million pledged for NIH research.

“With little more than a month remaining in the initial five-year agreement establishing SHRP, the NFL has yet to contribute the remaining $18 million pledged to support research into health issues affecting athletes through NIH,” the members wrote to Commissioner Goodell.   “Since this research is critical to improving our understanding of the increased health risks that athletes face from their sport as well as ways to prevent and mitigate such risks for the future, we would hope that the NFL would follow through on its commitment to provide the balance of its $30 million donation.” 

To better understand the NFL’s commitment to NIH, the members are requesting information from the NFL, including:

  • Does the NFL plan to follow through with its commitment to donate $30 million to support “research on serious medical conditions prominent in athletes” through NIH?
  • When and how does the NFL plan to distribute the remaining $18 million committed to support NIH research?
  • Does the NFL plan to renew the agreement with the NIH?

Last year, Energy and Commerce Democrats released a report exposing the NFL’s efforts to influence the type of research NIH conducted with the $30 million funding commitment. The Democratic Staff Report concluded by stating: “A recommitment to these agreements would help restore trust and eliminate any perception that the NFL is continuing to attempt to influence the scientific process, or any perception that the NFL is not committed to funding the full $30 million donation that it announced it would be making.”

A copy of the letter to Commissioner Goodell is available here.