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Study: Ex-NFL players not at greater suicide risk

NEW YORK -- Former professional football players are not at a greater risk of suicide than the general U.S. population, according to a new study by the federal government.Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that ...

NEW YORK - Former professional football players are not at a greater risk of suicide than the general U.S. population, according to a new study by the federal government.
Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that the suicide rate for nearly 3,500 retired National Football League players who played at least five seasons between 1959 and 1988 was less than half of what would be expected among a comparable selection of the general population based on gender, race and age.
The mounting evidence that football players can develop neurological problems due to concussions and repeated head trauma has prompted questions about whether those brain injuries might lead former players to kill themselves more often.
Several high-profile players, including Pro Football Hall of Fame member Junior Seau, committed suicide after developing chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative brain disease found in numerous former players that is linked to memory loss and erratic behavior.
Last month, a federal judge approved the NFL’s estimated $1 billion concussion settlement with thousands of retired players.
The CDC emphasized that the study “adds to the current discussion about the relationship between playing football and suicide risk, but does not resolve the issue of whether suicide is more common among former football players.”
The researchers did not have concussion histories or information like genetic or environmental factors that might contribute to suicide risk for any of the players studied.
The findings will appear in the May issue of the American Journal of Sports Medicine.
- The Buffalo Bills will retire Hall of Fame defensive end Bruce Smith’s No. 78 during their home opener against the New York Jets.
The Bills announced Wednesday that Smith’s jersey number will be retired at halftime of the Bills’ Week 2 game on Thursday night, Sept. 15.
The 52-year-old Smith will join quarterback Jim Kelly as the only other player in Bills franchise history with his number retired. Kelly’s No. 12 was retired in 2001.
The Bills have not issued No. 78 to any player since Smith’s final season with the team in 1999.
“On behalf of Terry and Kim Pegula and the entire Bills organization, we feel this is a tremendous opportunity to honor Bruce and his Hall of Fame career,” Bills president Russ Brandon said in a statement.
“We believe it’s going to be a great night for Bruce, his family and Bills fans everywhere.”
Smith is the NFL’s all-time leader with 200 career sacks. He played 15 seasons (1985-99) with the Bills and four seasons (2000-03) with the Washington Redskins.
“I’m humbled beyond words,” Smith said Wednesday during a conference call with reporters. “Where this fits I think is right at the top with being inducted into the Hall of Fame. I’m very grateful and thankful.”
Smith, the first overall selection of the 1985 draft, was an 11-time Pro Bowler and two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2009.
- New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman had surgery on his left foot during the offseason, but he is expected to be back in time for training camp.
The recent procedure was the second surgery on his left foot within the past year. According to ESPN, this surgery was considered a “cleanup procedure” and is not expected to affect Edelman’s 2016 season.
Edelman was seen recently wearing a boot on his foot while riding a motorized vehicle to get from place to place in New York City.
Edelman broke his left foot in a game in November. He had surgery at that time and a screw was inserted into his foot. He missed the rest of the regular season, but returned for the postseason.
Edelman, who turns 30 on May 22, played in nine regular-season games in 2015, and caught 61 passes for 692 yards and seven touchdowns. In two playoff games, he had 17 receptions for 153 yards and no scores.
- New York Jets wide receiver Eric Decker, who continues to lobby for Ryan Fitzpatrick’s return, says he was surprised when the team drafted quarterback Christian Hackenberg in the second round.
“I was a little surprised, to be honest with you,” Decker told ESPN.com at a charity event in Manhattan, where he was honored by the United Way of New York City.
“But Mike (Maccagnan, the general manager) and his scouts do their research and homework for a reason and they saw something special with him. I guess they wanted him earlier than later.”
The Jets drafted the Penn State quarterback with the No. 51 pick in the 2016 draft.
Decker and other teammates have come out in support of the Jets bringing back the unsigned Fitzpatrick as their starting quarterback.
Fitzpatrick and the Jets remain far apart on reaching a deal. The Jets reportedly have offered Fitzpatrick between $7 million and $8 million per year and the veteran is thought to be seeking twice that amount.
Fitzpatrick, 33, had a career year with the Jets last season, throwing for 3,905 yards with 31 touchdowns and 15 interceptions in his first year with the Jets. Fitzpatrick led the Jets to a 10-6 record and set the franchise mark for touchdown passes.

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