For years, the National Football League Foundation, formerly known as NFL Charities, has quietly funded horrific and deadly sports-injury experiments on dogs, mice, rats, and other animals at Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of California–Los Angeles, the University of Notre Dame, and other schools and private laboratories.
These projects, many of which are ongoing, are crudely designed to recreate injuries on the football field. They have involved inflicting severe knee injuries on dogs, after which the animals are killed and have their legs cut off; repeatedly slamming heavy weights into rats' heads to create brain and spinal cord injuries and skull fractures; and cutting open the heads of mice and delivering crushing blows to cause traumatic brain injuries. Many animals have even died during the studies because of the severe injuries that they sustained.
In addition to these experiments being cruel, studies have shown that they do not accurately replicate the complex injuries sustained by football players, and data and treatments derived from brain-injury experiments on animals have repeatedly failed to help human patients.
Following the NFL's $765 million settlement with former football players who suffered head injuries during their professional careers, the league announced that it is allocating $10 million for "research and education." But continuing to bash in animals' heads and cripple dogs won't help prevent and treat injuries sustained by NFL players. It's time for a new playbook when it comes to advancing the science of treating traumatic injuries.
Please send polite e-mails to NFL officials urging them to stop funding cruel and wasteful experiments on animals and instead support more humane and relevant non-animal research methods, such as in vitro and in silico studies and clinical research with current and former NFL players.