University of Cincinnati head football coach Luke Fickell acknowledged Thursday there's a likelihood he has chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) stemming from his playing days.
According to Tom Groeschen of the Cincinnati Enquirer, Fickell said the following in response to former NFL quarterback Boomer Esiason expressing his belief that he personally has CTE:
"I probably have it. Who knows? There's a lot of people that didn't play football that probably have it. It's not something I worry about. I've got five young boys that are gonna play the game of football, because I think the benefits far outweigh anything I worry about. I truly believe that."
Esiason said Monday on his radio show, Boomer & Carton (h/t CBS New York), that he and all football players have CTE: "If I died tomorrow and my brain basically was taken and researched and I was found to have CTE, which most likely I have. Because I think all football players probably have it."
Fickell remains in full support of football despite fear regarding CTE, but he said there is a responsibility to lessen risk:
"Now, do we have an obligation to make the game better? Every day we do, in some of the ways in which we tackle and some of the ways in which we practice. I think it’s something that's a little bit hypersensitive right now. It doesn't mean that we aren't aware of it. It doesn't mean we don't credibly use somewhat precaution in the way we do things and the way we practice."
In a recent study published by medical journal JAMA (h/t CNN.com's Daniella Emanuel), the brains of 202 deceased former football players were examined.
The brains were from those who experienced "exposure to repetitive head trauma," and 177 of them were diagnosed with the disease.
Fickell played four seasons as a nose guard at Ohio State before signing as an undrafted free agent with the New Orleans Saints in 1997 and spending one year with the team.
The 43-year-old was an assistant coach at OSU from 2002 through 2016 and was hired as Cincinnati's head man in December.