Football players have higher rate of premature death than baseball players, says study

Yahoo Sports
The NFL has tried to crack down on helmet-to-helmet hits. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton, File)
The NFL has tried to crack down on helmet-to-helmet hits. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton, File)

Football players are more likely to die compared to baseball players of the same age. A Harvard study that analyzed death rates and causes of death in thousands of baseball and football players discovered football players were at a higher risk of premature death, according to AFP.

Researchers decided to compare baseball and football players due to the differences in both sports. Half the members of the study — football players — played a high-contact sport. There is contact in baseball, but it happens far less often.

While the study wasn’t intended to identify why football players had an increased risk of death compared to baseball players, researchers pointed to the heightened risk of neurodegenerative and heart diseases among football players.

The risk of dying from neuro-degenerative diseases was three times greater among NFL players, who also faced a 2.5 times higher risk of dying from heart disease.

Even there, however, researchers cautioned against their own findings by pointing out football players can have a much higher body-mass index.

Their findings may not come as a huge surprise considering the stories focusing on chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE , in recent years. A number of deceased football players have been found to have the condition, including Junior Seau and Dave Duerson. The condition isn’t just found in former NFL players. Washington State quarterback Tyler Hilinski was found to be suffering from CTE as well.


Chris Cwik is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Chris_Cwik

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