Mortality risk factors among National Football League players: An analysis using player career data

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Abstract

In general, National Football League (NFL) players tend to live longer than the general population. However, little information exists about the long-term mortality risk in this population. Frequent, yet mild, head trauma may be associated with early mortality in this group of elite athletes. Therefore, career playing statistics can be used as a proxy for frequent head trauma. Using data from Pro Football Reference, we analyzed the association between age-at-death, position, and NFL seasons-played among 6,408 NFL players that were deceased as of July 1, 2018. The linear regression model allowing for a healthy worker effect demonstrated the best fit statistics (F-statistic = 9.95, p-value = 0.0016). The overall association of age-at-death and seasons-played is positive beginning at the 10.75 and 10.64 seasons-played point in our two models that feature seasons-played and seasons-played squared as explanatory variables. Previous research that does not account for the healthy worker effect may not adequately describe mortality risk among NFL players.
Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalF1000Research
Volume8
Issue number2022
StatePublished - Nov 28 2019

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Football
Statistics
Healthy Worker Effect
Mortality
Craniocerebral Trauma
Linear Models
Linear regression
Proxy
Athletes
Population
Research

Cite this

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title = "Mortality risk factors among National Football League players: An analysis using player career data",
abstract = "In general, National Football League (NFL) players tend to live longer than the general population. However, little information exists about the long-term mortality risk in this population. Frequent, yet mild, head trauma may be associated with early mortality in this group of elite athletes. Therefore, career playing statistics can be used as a proxy for frequent head trauma. Using data from Pro Football Reference, we analyzed the association between age-at-death, position, and NFL seasons-played among 6,408 NFL players that were deceased as of July 1, 2018. The linear regression model allowing for a healthy worker effect demonstrated the best fit statistics (F-statistic = 9.95, p-value = 0.0016). The overall association of age-at-death and seasons-played is positive beginning at the 10.75 and 10.64 seasons-played point in our two models that feature seasons-played and seasons-played squared as explanatory variables. Previous research that does not account for the healthy worker effect may not adequately describe mortality risk among NFL players.",
author = "Justin Ehrlich and Brittany Kmush and Bhavneet Walia and Shane Sanders",
year = "2019",
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language = "English (US)",
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AU - Ehrlich, Justin

AU - Kmush, Brittany

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AU - Sanders, Shane

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N2 - In general, National Football League (NFL) players tend to live longer than the general population. However, little information exists about the long-term mortality risk in this population. Frequent, yet mild, head trauma may be associated with early mortality in this group of elite athletes. Therefore, career playing statistics can be used as a proxy for frequent head trauma. Using data from Pro Football Reference, we analyzed the association between age-at-death, position, and NFL seasons-played among 6,408 NFL players that were deceased as of July 1, 2018. The linear regression model allowing for a healthy worker effect demonstrated the best fit statistics (F-statistic = 9.95, p-value = 0.0016). The overall association of age-at-death and seasons-played is positive beginning at the 10.75 and 10.64 seasons-played point in our two models that feature seasons-played and seasons-played squared as explanatory variables. Previous research that does not account for the healthy worker effect may not adequately describe mortality risk among NFL players.

AB - In general, National Football League (NFL) players tend to live longer than the general population. However, little information exists about the long-term mortality risk in this population. Frequent, yet mild, head trauma may be associated with early mortality in this group of elite athletes. Therefore, career playing statistics can be used as a proxy for frequent head trauma. Using data from Pro Football Reference, we analyzed the association between age-at-death, position, and NFL seasons-played among 6,408 NFL players that were deceased as of July 1, 2018. The linear regression model allowing for a healthy worker effect demonstrated the best fit statistics (F-statistic = 9.95, p-value = 0.0016). The overall association of age-at-death and seasons-played is positive beginning at the 10.75 and 10.64 seasons-played point in our two models that feature seasons-played and seasons-played squared as explanatory variables. Previous research that does not account for the healthy worker effect may not adequately describe mortality risk among NFL players.

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