For those that have been fans of the Minnesota Vikings for a significant length of time, the name of Steve Jordan still sits atop the list of tight ends in franchise history. He’s still has more receptions than any other tight end in team history (498, which is the third-highest total for any Viking not named Cris Carter or Randy Moss) and still has more than twice as many career receiving yards as Kyle Rudolph, who is second in team history in that category.
This week, however, Jordan took a step in his off-field career that could prove to be a huge boon to not only National Football League players, but people in every walk of life.
Jordan, along with eight other former NFL players, made a trip to Phoenix, Arizona, and the Translational Genomics Research Institute. There, they donated samples and completed a questionnaire as part of a study that could, one day, help to diagnose Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) in living subjects. CTE is a progressive degenerative disease of the brain that is found in people that have suffered repeated head trauma.
This was the first official collection that the Institute has completed, and they hope to gather samples from around 200 athletes, mostly current and former football players. Their samples will then be compared to a control group of people that have not been subject to repeated head trauma.
Jordan talked about how the treatment of head trauma has changed from the time when he was a player to what we see today.
When Jordan played, in the 1980s and ‘90s, “coaches and staff were telling you, ‘Hey, we need you this week. You’ve got to come back,’” he said. “And you know you shouldn’t play, but you do. We’re motivated. We love the game.
”I really appreciate now that there are independent people who will pull a player out of the game. I know it’s not 100 percent (perfect) but that’s so much better than what it was before.”
As the article points out, Jordan might have some extra interest in this for family reasons, as his son Cameron is currently a standout defensive end for the New Orleans Saints.
“You go to these meetings with former players,” Jordan said, “and the hope is we’ll be able to do something that will make it better for future players and our own kids. Most of us who are former players, we have kids who play or have played youth sports. We want to help ameliorate that (diagnosing and treating head trauma).”
This process will, undoubtedly, be a long one. However, no matter how much time it takes, hopefully this study and others like it will be able to find ways to detect the onset in CTE in people that are still alive, and provide benefits that could potentially make the National Football League safer as well. Kudos to Steve Jordan and the other eight former NFL players that have helped to get this study underway.