The most infamous rheumatologist in all of sports is out as the NFL’s chief medical officer. Dr. Elliot Pellman has agreed to retire, commissioner Roger Goodell announced in a memo sent to all 32 teams on Wednesday. It’s cited as a move to Sergei Nemchinov Jersey help rebuild trust with the players, cutting ties with the former head of the league’s Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Committee and the point man for denying the links between head trauma and long-term neurological disease like CTE that’s caused a health crisis among retired NFL players.
His role in pushing back against assertions that head trauma led to CTE and other long-term neurological disease made him a central figure in the class Tanner Glass Jersey action lawsuit by former players — settled in Aug. 2015. Pellman gained even more public notoriety thanks to the film Concussion, the story of Dr. Bennet Omalu, played by Will Smith, who discovered chronic traumatic encephalopathy. Pellman was played by Paul Riser.
He stepped down as the MTBI committee chair in 2007, but remained on the committee even after the league publicly changed course on player safety, instituting rule changes designed to cut down on head injuries.
Pellman was also an advisor to Major League Baseball and the NHL’s New York Islanders.
It took a massive lawsuit, a Congressional inquiry and lots of bad press, but the NFL has since softened its stance on the issue, gradually. This spring, NFL Senior Vice President of Health and Safety Policy Jeff Miller became the first league official to acknowledge the link between football and CTE. His stance made it even harder to reconcile keeping Pellman on the payroll, and it looks like the NFL finally understood the contradiction.
These are only steps, positive ones, but only the first of many the NFL has to take to rebuild the damage caused by Pellman and his ilk, many of whom are still affiliated with the league and downplaying the impact on player health.
“I’d like to still be playing football,” Romo told Peter Jackel of the Racine Journal Times earlier in July. “Maybe 10 years is stretching it a little. We’ll see.”
If Romo actually earned playing time until he was 46, it would be unprecedented. George Blanda is the only player in NFL history with a pass attempt after his 45th birthday, but he transitioned from splitting time as a quarterback and kicker to just a kicking role in the final years of his career. Once a starter for the Chicago Bears and Houston Oilers, Blanda threw only a handful of passes in his last few seasons with the Oakland Raiders.
Romo has struggled with injuries in recent seasons, suffering multiple collarbone fractures that cost him all but four games in 2015. However, his health and play during the 2016 offseason has made him optimistic that the end isn’t on the horizon.
“The reality of it is that time usually tells you when you’re done,” Romo told Jackel. “I know I’m playing some of my best football this offseason. It’s been very enjoyable. I’m pretty excited about what lies ahead.”
Even playing for three more years would put Romo in an exclusive club, as Peyton Manning became only the eighth player to start eight or more games at age 39 or older. A few managed to keep putting up good numbers for a little while longer, but it typically didn’t last for long.
“When an NFL player doesn’t have something to play for other than just a game, and somebody else does,” Arians said, “you’re going to get beat every time.”