DAVIE — As the owner of an NFL team, Stephen Ross has thought a lot about the future of the game, the safety of the game and the serious health issues many former players have reported.
But Ross, the Miami Dolphins owner, has come to the conclusion that the league has a bright future.
And Ross said if he had a son, he’d encourage him to play football.
“We do everything as a team, as a league, to really make sure we’re looking at all of the different issues,” Ross said Thursday. “We’re all concerned about it. There is a tremendous amount of research that goes into it. Things to make it better. And as close as I am, I know if I had a son, I’d have him playing football today. So I mean yes these are things of concern. But so much attention, time and efforts are going toward making sure the sport is safer. They’ve done many, many rules changes over the last number of years, to do that. And you know I think we’ll just keep doing that, until we find a solution.”
Is Ross worried about the long-term health of the game, considering some view it as under attack?
For example, a recent medical journal report stated chronic traumatic encephalopathy, known as CTE, was found in 99% of deceased NFL players’ brains that were donated in a scientific research study.
“I think if you look at the way people look at football today, I think it’s as popular as it has ever been and I think it will continue to be that way,” Ross said. “And the things we’re doing are forward-thinking. We’re not just sitting back as a league and we’re not as a team, saying, ‘Hey everything is great.’ And not realizing there are issues. You’ve got to make them better. And I think every owner in the league feels the same way.”
Ross was affected by some of the stories he read about former Dolphins suffering long-term health issues they believe was related to their years of playing football. But, he noted, it’s an issue not exclusive to the Dolphins, and not necessarily indicative of the lives many other former NFL players are living.
“I was very saddened to know about that,” Ross said of stories about players such as Nick Buonoconti and Jim Kiick. “You’ve read about not just Miami Dolphins. I mean across the league there are many great players that have suffered nothing and have lived full, healthy lives. But you hate to see any one person suffer.”
The Dolphins have recently partnered with the University of Miami and the KiDZ Neuroscience Center to help more than 15,000 youth football players identify, treat and establish protocols in concussions. It’s a program that may also expand in the future.
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