For NFL players, chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) represents an existential threat. They know researchers are hard at work developing a test to identify CTE in living people, and they know there is a good chance a large number of them are living with the debilitating brain disease.
So, what happens when that test finally becomes a reality? Will players be onboard with being tested for an untreatable brain disease, or would they rather live with not knowing? Would the league mandate testing? Could the league survive mandated testing?
Professional football players have been asking themselves these questions in private for some time, but Sports Illustrated finally got popular names from the league to go on the record with how they would respond to a CTE test for living athletes.
Surprisingly, quite a few of the athletes are more than willing to be tested and they almost unanimously agree they would retire should they ever be diagnosed. But, they also recognize they wouldn’t have a career without the sport that has put them in risk of developing CTE and say it might be a little early to be thinking about CTE testing.