House panel questions NFL about millions promised to NIH for concussion research

Democratic members of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce wrote they “hope that the NFL would follow through on its commitment" on millions pledged to the National Institutes of Health for concussion research in a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Wednesday.

The NFL agreed to provide $30 million in funding to the NIH in 2012. The committee members claimed that about $18 million still hasn’t been paid as part of the agreement that is set to expire at the end of August.

“We are currently engaged in constructive discussions with the (Foundation for NIH) regarding potential new research projects and the remaining funds of our $30 million commitment,” NFL spokesperson Brian McCarthy said in an email to USA TODAY Sports.

The inquiry from the House panel comes a day after an updated study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association reported 110 of 111 former NFL players whose brains were donated for research showed signs of the debilitating brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

The four-page letter signed by Energy and Commerce Ranking Member Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), and Reps. Gene Green (D-TX), Diana DeGette (D-Col.) and Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) asked Goodell when the remaining money would be allocated to the Sports and Health Research Program (SHRP) and if the NFL planned to continue to fund NIH concussion research beyond the end of next month.

“Since this research is critical to improving our understanding of the increased health risks that athletes face from their sport as well as ways to prevent and mitigate such risks for the future, we would hope that the NFL would follow through on its commitment to provide the balance of its $30 million donation," the members wrote in the letter.

The NFL promised the NIH millions through the FNIH, the nonprofit created to handle funding to the NIH from the private sector. Issues have been raised between the agreement after the same House panel released a report in May 2016 that claimed NFL officials “improperly attempted to influence the grant selection process.”

The NFL said at the time it "rejects the allegations” made in the report.

McCarthy pointed out that the league has made other initiatives

"In September 2016, the NFL pledged $100 million in support for independent medical research and engineering advancements in neuroscience-related topics," McCarthy said. "This is in addition to the $100 million that the NFL and its partners are already spending on medical and neuroscience research."

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