Dr. Elliot Pellman, the long-time and controversial medical advisor to the NFL, will retire and be replaced by a full-time chief medical officer, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell wrote in a memo to all 32 football teams on Wednesday, according to Ian Rapoport.
Pellman spent 30 years with the NFL, including time as the Jets team doctor and as the chair of the league’s research arm. He is a rheumatologist with a medical degree from a Guadalajara, Mexico medical school, and has been at the center of the league’s murky relationship with the medical community regarding concussions.
Pellman led the Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Committee, and was named 26 times in a lawsuit against the NFL alleging that the league covered up the link between brain damage and football.
He was also featured in an ESPN investigation that said the NFL withdrew a $16 million pledge to the National Institute of Health dedicated toward concussion research after the NIH rewarded the money to a researcher from Boston University who had previously clashed with the league.
In May, a congressional report concluded that the NFL had pressured the National Institutes of Health to strip the $16 million project from a prominent Boston University researcher. It also determined the NFL tried to redirect the money to members of the league’s committee on brain injuries. The study was to have been funded out of a $30 million “unrestricted gift” the NFL gave the NIH in 2012.
According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Goodell first spurred Pellman’s retirement:
On Dr. Pellman’s retirement, a league source said this is Commissioner Goodell’s decision and Pellman agreed to it. So he’s out.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) July 20, 2016
ESPN reports that the NFL will begin its search for a new chief medical officer this week. The search will reportedly be led by Dr. Betsy Nabel, the league’s chief health and medical adviser.
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