NEWS RELEASE Friday July 7, 2017
CFL Players’ Association says brain autopsy of veteran player Rick Klassen showing stage II CTE is evidence for urgent need to reduce unnecessary contact, improve player safety and rehabilitation
TORONTO – The Canadian Football League Players’ Association says the brain autopsy of veteran CFL lineman Rick Klassen showing stage II chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) and dementia is powerful evidence for the urgent need to reduce unnecessary contact and improve player safety and rehabilitation.
Klassen decided to donate his brain to the Canadian concussion Centre before he passed away at 57 in December 2016. CFLPA Executive Director Brian Ramsay said Klassen’s decision to help future CFL players avoid CTE and other brain trauma injuries is admirable and very important.
“Rick Klassen knew something was dramatically wrong before his life ended prematurely and he made the courageous decision to add to the growing body of research showing that far too many former football players suffer from CTE,” said Ramsay.
“The evidence is increasingly overwhelming that not just concussions but repeated hard contact to the head causes brain trauma,” says Ramsay, a former offensive lineman himself in the CFL. “It’s time for the CFL to follow the National Football League and NCAA in eliminating unnecessary contact in practices to reduce the risk to players.”
Ramsay added that the CFL needs to take other measures recommended by the players’ association to make the game safer and to also allow proper rehabilitation for injured players. CFL teams are currently only required to give players 12 months of rehabilitation after an injury – often insufficient time for recovery.
Rick Klassen won a Grey Cup with the BC Lions in 1985 during his 10-year CFL career and was inducted into the Lions Wall of Fame in 2012. Ramsay said the CFLPA hopes newly appointed CFL Commissioner Randy Ambrosie will take a special interest in the Klassen evidence.
“The CFLPA will reach out to Commissioner Ambrosie to discuss this finding and we appreciate his stated willingness to work with us on tough issues,” Ramsay said. “We hope he and CFL owners will make player safety changes a priority.”
For more information: CFLPA Office at 1-800-616-6865 & firstname.lastname@example.org