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The NFL, embroiled in safety and legal issues over player concussions, named its first chief health and medical adviser on Monday.
Dr. Betsy Nabel, a biomedical researcher and cardiologist, will serve as the league's senior medical expert, the NFL announced. Nabel also is president of Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
“We are excited to have Dr. Nabel’s insight as we continually seek ways to make our game better and safer,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. Nabel will work directly with Goodell. Her tasks include identifying "areas for the NFL to enhance player safety, care and treatment," league officials said.
The hire follows a spate of player deaths tied to in-game head injuries — including retired star Junior Seau, who committed suicide then was posthumously diagnosed with a brain disorder. Last week, a judge ruled that changes are needed in the NFL's $765-million concussion-lawsuit settlement with former players.
Football itself has come under harsh scrutiny for the game's long-term damage. Last Thursday, a Wisconsin woman sued the Pop Warner organization over the suicide of her son, which she claimed was due to dementia caused by brain injuries he suffered playing tackle football beginning at age 11.