Another hit for football

We may be known as home to the reigning NFL champions, but Boston is also the center of research efforts that have methodically plowed through the defensive line the multibillion-dollar industry erected against the idea that the repeated head injuries its players are subject to exacts a devastating human toll.

The NFL conceded the problem several years ago and agreed to a settlement with former players that could mean a payout of as much as $1 billion to those suffering the effects of repeated head trauma.

The evidence linking repeated head injuries to the degenerative brain condition chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, has been clear for some time. But a new report published yesterday adds even more weight to the findings. Researchers affiliated with Boston University School of Medicine and the VA Boston Healthcare System examined the brains of 111 NFL players and found evidence of CTE in 110.

“It’s impossible to ignore this anymore,” said Dr. Ann McKee, director of BU’s CTE Center and chief of neuropathology at the Boston VA, senior author of the report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

But just what impact the new report will have is unclear.

We have become as inured to the latest CTE findings as we have to fresh tweets from a White House occupant who keeps lowering the bar for presidential standards. The shock and outrage meter for both has spiked so much that new cases just don’t carry the same edge.

The new study comes with one big limitation: The researchers examined the brains of players whose families donated them, and McKee acknowledges that many did so because they believed their loved one was showing signs of CTE. The findings therefore cannot estimate the prevalence of CTE among football players. But as the New York Times story points out, even if all the remaining 1,300 former NFL players who died since the researchers began collecting brain specimens were free of CTE — which is itself highly unlikely — the prevalence of CTE would still be approaching 9 percent, which is “vastly higher than in the general population.”

The coach at Blackstone Valley Technical High School told the Herald the numbers from the study were “alarming.” But the coach at Milford High School said, with improvements in helmet technology and rule changes football is the “safest it’s ever been.”

The NFL issued a statement saying it is “committed to supporting scientific research into CTE and advancing progress in the prevention and treatment of head injuries.”

The Patriots, as taciturn as their do-your-job coach, declined to comment.

MICHAEL JONAS


BEACON HILL

After hearings on Beacon Hill, the House appears poised to reject Gov. Charlie Baker’s MassHealth cost-saving reforms. (State House News)

A Chicago-based advocacy group accuses Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson of colluding with anti-immigrant groups to maintain a white majority in the country. Hodgson calls the accusation nonsense. (South Coast Today)

A Globe editorial calls for the Legislature to pass a bill that would allow for court orders barring possession or purchase of guns by those deemed a danger to themselves or others.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Southbridge takes another hit, as Town Manager Ronald S. San Angelo says he doesn’t want his contract renewed. The community is also reeling from turnover in the school system, which is under state receivership. (Telegram & Gazette)

Herald News columnist Marc Dion longs for the days when workaday, unremarkable Bob Correia was mayor of Fall River, given the cast of crazies that he says have followed him into office.

A group of artists asks the Berkshire Museum to not sell off 40 works of art to fund an expansion and an endowment. (Berkshire Eagle)

Following the town of Easton’s rejection of its bid to raise rents, owners of a mobile home park there say they’ll close it down. (The Enterprise)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

The Senate votes 51-50 to take up health care reform, but then soundly rejects a sweeping bill to replace the Affordable Care Act, casting doubt on whether Republican leaders can get something passed. (New York Times)

Ooops. A live mic captures Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine and Democratic Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island gossiping about President Trump and Republican Rep. Blake Farenthold of Texas. (Washington Post)

Sort of on the same page? Globe columnist Renee Graham does not exactly rush to Jeff Sessions’s defense as much as she tees up his situation as a lesson in the ways of the man who appointed him. Meanwhile, Howie Carr (who does come to Sessions’s defense) also focuses on Trump’s lack of loyalty to the first member of the Senate to endorse him: “No good deed goes unpunished,” he writes of Trump’s tweet tantrums against his AG. Don’t quit, make him fire you, urges a Herald editorial.

ELECTIONS

Cindy Friedman breezes to victory in a special election to replace her former boss, Sen. Kenneth Donnelly. (Lowell Sun)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

A Norfolk County judge rejects a bid by Motel 6 to have him overrule a Braintree Board of Health ruling that shut down an outlet in town because of persistent trouble there, including the shooting in May of a Braintree police officer. (Patriot Ledger)

EDUCATION

Boston school bus drivers say a new route consolidation plan that will mean the layoff of some drivers will result is “crazy” and will lead to late arrival for many students. (Boston Globe)

TRANSPORTATION

The MBTA is expected to get $4.5 million in a legal settlement with its former parking lot operator, whose employees allegedly stole money for several years. (CommonWealth)

The Massachusetts congressional delegation calls on federal regulators to review the MBTA’s plan to erect poles as high as 74 feet along commuter rail tracks to improve WiFi service aboard trains. (Eagle-Tribune)

If you leave something in an Uber you can now get it back. For $15. (Boston Globe)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

The Trump administration overruled a Northeast regional commission and gave New Jersey fishermen the go-ahead to increase their flounder catch-limits, a decision that members of the commission and others say threatens fish stocks — and established systems for managing them. (Boston Globe)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

Those who were abused by pedophile priest Paul Shanley are being “re-victimized” by his imminent release from prison, says lawyer Mitchell Garabedian. (Boston Herald)

Boston police say their clearance rate for homicides so far this year is 74 percent, up from 63 percent for all of 2016. (Boston Globe)

Federal prosecutors allege that the owners of a Peabody pizza and roast beef joint called Giovanni’s skimmed nearly $3 million in cash from the eatery’s receipts. (Salem News)

The US Justice Department escalates its crackdown on sanctuary cities. (Associated Press)

Bristol Sheriff Thomas Hodgson wants to have jail visitors talk to inmates through video conferencing rather than sit across from them, separated by a plexiglass divider, a move officials say will reduce the flow of contraband into the jail but which the ACLU calls “cruel.” (Boston Globe)

MEDIA

How the elimination of the copy desk at the New York Times is changing the newspaper’s culture. (Vanity Fair)

Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight rants about press coverage of John McCain and his return to the Senate after learning he has brain cancer.