With football at a health and safety crossroads, the scientists researching the long-term impacts of head trauma are front and center. Robert Stern, the director of clinical research at Boston University’s CTE Center, is working to find a way to diagnose chronic traumatic encephalopathy—the neurodegenerative disease found in the brains of dozens of deceased football players—in patients who are still living. When the NFL backed out of funding his research through a $30 million grant that was advertised as “unrestricted,” eyebrows were raised about the league’s intentions. Such a breakthrough would, quite literally, change the game.
— Jenny Vrentas