Harvard study examines long-term effects of playing in NFL

FOX 5 Sports Director Duke Castiglione takes a closer look at The Football Player’s Health Study at Harvard University.

- The new Will Smith movie, 'Concussion,' is shedding light on the potential dangers of football. The film hits theaters next week, but it's already raising many issues about the game and the long-term effect it can have on players.

Research is already underway at Harvard University on what can be done to make the sport safer.

"When the Harvard people approached me, my first thought was another study and when they explained to me what the study was going to encompass I had no choice but to jump on it," said former NFL player Steve DeOssie.

The NFL Players Association is funding The Football Player’s Health Study at Harvard University.

DeOssie, who played 12 years in the NFL and helped the NY Giants win Super Bowl 25, is now helping engage the over 2,700 former NFL players who have agreed to take part in the study.

"I think this study is very different because it wants to find the truth in all aspects of what has happened to former players---we are not just interested in concussions we are interested in the whole player their whole life," said Dr. Ross Zafonte, co-director of the study.

The study is scheduled to run for five years, but could go longer.

All the research and results will be independent of the NFLPA.

The association is encouraging all former NFL players---superstars, Hall of Famers, journey men and practice squad players, to take part in the study.

The first step is to fill out a confidential questionaire that takes approximately 15-20 minutes to complete.

But, Dr. Alvaro Pascul-Leone,  an associate director of the study, urges everyone to use caution when it comes to the affect the study will have on football.

"Whether the rules should be changed or not----I don't think as a scientist or as clinicians we address," said Dr. Pasul-Leone.

“There is no pre-ordained goal in mind. We are not doing this study to prove something. We are doing this study to find things out. It’s about us and our lives and what we have been through and how we’ve been coping with it," said DeOssie.

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