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

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5 Scopus citations


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 this survivorship bias/healthy worker effect may not adequately describe mortality risk among NFL players.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2022
StatePublished - 2020


  • CTE
  • Chronic traumatic encephalopathy
  • Concussions
  • Football
  • Gridiron football
  • NFL
  • Sports

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • General Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology


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