Hoge: There Is No Link Between Football And CTE

Merril Hoge has authored “Brainwashed: The Bad Science Behind CTE and the Plot to Destroy Football"

Zach Gelb
October 29, 2018 - 4:43 pm

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Merril Hoge dropped by CBS Sports Radio to discuss his book, “Brainwashed: The Bad Science Behind CTE and the Plot to Destroy Football,” which challenges some prevailing schools of thought surrounding the degenerative brain disease.

In his book, Hoge, 53, argues that there is no link between contact sports and CTE.

“Even though I played and I’ve coached 44 yeas of football, I’m really a dad,” Hoge said on The Zach Gelb Show. “Youth football, I’m passionate about it. That’s where I’m coming from – from a dad perspective. The science is so confusing that I wanted answers. I went from New York to L.A. to Canada and talked to the greatest minds in the world (about) what is CTE?”

Hoge explained that doctors are still researching CTE and trying to understand what causes it. He also said that people who have not played football – or contact sports – have developed CTE.

“What that tells you is you can’t keep just targeting contact sports and football, simply because of all the cases that you have that are outside that realm,” Hoge said. “There’s obviously clearly much research that needs to be done. That was empowering to me. I really wanted to share what the science really says to families. The science says they don’t know. It would be nice just to know the truth.”

The truth, Hoge says, is that there is no link between football and CTE.

“You got to be careful when you say links and stuff like that because I think people interpret that as it’s going to cause it,” he said. “You have to understand what link means. Listen, there’s a link to no football, too. There’s a link to obesity. Almost every degenerative disease known to mankind, there’s one link to it. It’s obesity and sugar, inflammation, drugs, alcohol, opioids – those are in almost every degenerative disease, cancer, cardiovascular disease. There’s a link to that. There’s a high link.”

Hoge played in the NFL from 1987 to 1994. His former teammate, Mike Webster, died in 2002 and was found to have CTE.

While Hoge said football does not cause CTE, he does believe concussion protocols should be followed.

“Having a concussion and not taking care of it is not the right thing,” he said. “That’s why protocols are so important. The helmets and the equipment that we have today are superior to what we had 90 years ago. Those things are all helping in this environment. That’s why the research, to me, is so important – that you look at the true scope of things. With cases of CTE outside, you just can’t keep saying, ‘Oh, it’s just football,’ or, ‘Oh, it’s just contact sports.’ It’s a wider scope than that. That’s where the science is. If people understand it, I think it empowers them better and just helps them with decisions they make versus pulling kids out and not letting them play because you think if they get a concussion, they’re going to get CTE. There’s no scientific evidence of that.”