After examining 21 retired Bills and Sabres players, including Piccone, the UB team has published a series of academic papers weighing in on CTE – a degenerative brain disease linked to sports such as football.
The UB team does not dispute the existence of CTE. But the researchers, based on finding no evidence of early onset dementia in 21 former Bills and Sabres players, said they do not believe CTE is as dangerous as previously thought.
Barry S. Willer, a UB professor of psychiatry who was lead investigator and co-author of the papers, said he started his work at UB expecting to find high rates of early onset dementia among the Bills and Sabres players.
Sean Kirst: Ex-Bill Mark Maddox looks to fans for memories stolen by CTE. “A lot of had other issues, multiple orthopedic injuries, as you’d image,” added John Leddy, a UB professor of orthopedics, at the news conference.
The Bills and Sabres players who participated in UB’s study were not named in the papers.
The UB research team compared brain health scans of the retired Bills and Sabres athletes to similar brain scans of a control group of 29 “Age-matched,” noncontact sport players, according to the papers.
Based off the UB study, Willer and Leddy said they believe there’s possibly a genetic trigger, or predisposition, that makes some athletes particularly prone to CTE. “In time, people will begin to realize it’s an important issue, CTE exists, but it’s much more rare than we thought,” Willer said.