Merril Hoge Questions Relationship Between Football And CTE In New Book

The former Steeler recently released 'Brainwashed'

Merril Hoge

Rob Graner

PITTSBURGH (Newsradio 1020 KDKA) - CTE is a disease that develops when a person suffers from repetitive hits to the head, causing brain injury. (

It is often linked to athletes, especially those who play football.

Retired Steelers running back, Merril Hoge, recently wrote a book called Brainwashed. In it, he questions the relationship between football and CTE.  

Larry Richert, Merril Hoge, John Shumway
Rob Graner

Addressing a concussion is the first step in the evaluation process.

Related: Would You, As a Parent, Keep Your Kid From Playing a Sport For Health Reasons?

“I had two, and I was improperly cared for with the first one. That’s where the whole problem is,” Hoge said.

Back then, proper protocols weren’t in place to ensure the safety of a player. It wasn’t until Chuck Noll and the Steelers asked doctors for subjective and objective information on concussions.

“The Steelers in 1991 were the pioneers. They were doing cognitive testing because Chuck Noll challenged Joe Maroon (Neurologist),” Hoge added.

“If Chuck doesn’t challenge them, who knows when we eventually get there?”

Merril went on search in Canada to talk to any neuropathologist who would discuss CTE with him. One after another, told him this;

“CTE is a pattern that we’re observing. We don’t know what causes it, and we don’t know what it causes. We got people that played sports and had concussions, and then we have people who never played sports, never had a concussion, and never had a history of head trauma.”

CTE cannot be diagnosed until a biopsy is done on the brain after death.

“Nobody has ever died from it, they don’t know what it causes, and they have people who have never played sports,” Hoge tells KDKA Radio.

It is hard to distinguish the science and knowledge behind CTE’s link to football because there isn’t a lot of evidence supporting it.  

According to Hoge, there are only 300 cases of CTE in the world.

“When you hear about the word sub concussion, they have not even done the proper steps to make it scientific. Part of what you hear people say is that it’s any sudden shift, it’s not just hits to the head,” Hoge explains.

Jumping on a trampoline or taking part in a pillow fight would then apply for a sub concussion.

There are also other reasons why people suffer from brain disease; Hoge points out,

“Obesity, sugar consumption, drugs, alcohol, opioids, and inactivity,” are related to brain disease.

He believes most people are misunderstood on the entire issue.

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