3 Professional NFL players donate their brain for Concussion



Mel Farr Jr. among 30 new pledges from former NFL players. Mel Farr Sr. had stage 3 CTE when he died, his family announced Monday

(Boston) – The Concussion Legacy Foundation announced today that 30 new former NFL players, including three Pro-Bowlers, have pledged their brains to research as part of the first Brain Pledge Month, which will run throughout February. The group includes San Francisco 49ers three-time Super Bowl Champion and three-time Pro Bowl offensive lineman Randy Cross, three-time Pro-Bowl guard Keith Sims, and Pro-Bowl cornerback Shawn Springs. Other pledge names will be released throughout Brain Pledge Month.

Brain Pledge Month is part of the Foundation’s My Legacy campaign to encourage athletes to make a lasting contribution to concussion and CTE research. 1,467 former athletes and military veterans have pledged to donate their brain to the Concussion Legacy Foundation since 2008, including 647 since the launch of My Legacy last year. Super Bowl Champion Gary Fencik and NFLPA President Eric Winston kicked off the program, and were quickly followed by soccer legend Brandi Chastain and NASCAR’s Dale Earnhardt Jr. Brain Pledge Month will last through February, with the goal of encouraging as many people as possible, from all sports backgrounds at all levels, to pledge their brain to research at ConcussionFoundation.org/pledge.

“I can’t imagine why anybody that played the game and that cares about the guys and the kids that are starting to play the game now, wouldn’t donate,” said Cross. “I would urge everybody that’s ever played the game to do it.”

“As we start to see the effects of football, we want to learn more,” said Springs, who played over 20 years of tackle football between high school, college and the NFL. “Why wouldn’t I give my brain to help with the research so people can become more educated and more aware?”

The pledge from Farr Jr., who played running back at UCLA and one season for the Los Angeles Rams in 1988, comes three days after his family disclosed on ESPN Outside the Lines that his father, Detroit Lions Pro-Bowl running back Mel Farr Sr., had Stage 3 CTE when he died in 2015.

In 2008, the Concussion Legacy Foundation partnered with Boston University and the US Department of Veterans Affairs to create the VA-BU-CLF Brain Bank, now the world’s largest CTE brain bank with subspecialties in concussion, ALS, and other consequences of brain trauma. 385 brains have been donated, including 277 football players, resulting in over 240 CTE diagnoses, around 70% of confirmed CTE cases globally.

“Pledging to donate your brain is a fantastic way for current and former athletes to contribute to brain trauma research,” said Chris Nowinski, co-founder and CEO of the Concussion Legacy Foundation. “Brain bank research is an essential step in learning to prevent and treat CTE, and has provided insights that have launched multiple studies at the Boston University CTE Center focused on developing diagnostics and therapeutics.”

While football has led the national CTE conversation, Brain Pledge Month is focused on expanding donations in other sports involving collisions like soccer, ice hockey, lacrosse, rugby, equestrian, baseball, mixed martial arts, extreme sports, pro wrestling, boxing, cheerleading, auto racing, as well as military veterans.

Everyone who pledges their brain to the Concussion Legacy Foundation receives a personalized brain donor card and an informational packet about the brain donation process. Those who take the pledge during Brain Pledge Month are encouraged to spread the word to friends, family and former teammates about the importance of brain trauma research, and to share why they pledged using #MyLegacy.

Randy Cross, Shawn Springs and Chris Nowinski are in Houston and available for media throughout the lead-up to Super Bowl LI.

About Randy Cross:
Randy Cross was an offensive lineman for the San Francisco 49ers for all 13 years of his NFL Career. Cross won three Super Bowls with the 49ers (1981, ’84, ’88) and was a three-time Pro Bowler (’81, ’82, ’84). Cross was an All-American at UCLA, where he helped lead the team to a Rose Bowl victory in 1976. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2010. Cross was a second-round pick by the 49ers in 1976. He has enjoyed a successful post-playing career working in TV and radio since he retired in 1989.

About Keith Sims:
Keith Sims was an offensive lineman in the NFL for 11 years, including eight seasons on the Miami Dolphins and for 3 seasons on the Washington Redskins. Sims was a three-time Pro-Bowler (1993, ’94, ’95) and was elected to the Iowa State University Hall of Fame in 2006. He was a second round draft pick by the Dolphins in 2000. Sims has been a successful sideline reporter for the Miami Dolphins Radio Network in his post NFL career.

About Shawn Springs:
Shawn Springs was a cornerback in the NFL for 13 years, playing for the Seattle Seahawks, Washington Redskins and New England Patriots. Springs was a Pro Bowler for the Seahawks in 1998, when he logged 75 tackles and a career-high seven interceptions. Springs was the third overall pick in the 1997 NFL Draft out of Ohio State. He amassed 714 tackles and 33 interceptions in his career. Springs has been a successful entrepreneur and investor in his post-NFL career, and is currently the CEO of Windpact.

Women & Wearables TO -SportFitz to showcase wearable Technology

Waterloo based SportFitz, Wearable Traumatic Brain Injury Reduction Technology, Selected to Showcase at Women & Wearables TO: An evening of celebration, discussion & activism, Tuesday, March 28, 2017, 6:00 PM to 10:00 PM, MaRS Discovery District, 101 College Street, Toronto, ON.

We Are Wearables and Electric Runway have teamed up to host “Women and Wearables” a night of celebration, conversation, and activism empowering women in wearable tech.

This special edition of WWTO will touch on the opportunities & challenges for women in hardware, the need for diversity in tech teams, and the journey of the female founder.

The goal of this event is to raise awareness, drive conversation and illicit action on the need for diversity in tech in the Toronto wearable and hardware space.

In addition to an all-female cast on stage, we are also hosting female-founded or female-focused startups and organizations in our demo area: Meta, InteraXon (Muse), Linkitz, Bellabeat, VX360, SportFitz, Daily Goods Fashion Tech, No Campfire Required, eSight, Netatmo, OCADu’s Social Body Lab, CFC ideaBOOST, Muzik, Little Robot Friends, Ripple, Daniel Christian Tang, Ladies Learning Code, Women of Wearables, and more to be announced soon!

SportFitz delivers the Fitz™ Brain Injury Reduction System to identify concussions and reduce or eliminate subsequent brain injuries.

The Fitz™ is a brain injury monitor worn on the head or in headgear to measure, monitor and report movement of the brain in the skull.

Impacts are monitored in real-time and pushed to a smart device for immediate assessment. 6+ DOF, RF Connectivity (local and wide area), GPS, Reusable, Waterproof, Li-Ion battery, Wireless charging, Embedded concussion protocols, Encrypted wireless data transmission, Programmable  thresholds, Individual  & Team applications, Haptic/Audio feedback.

The impact of concussions in sport is pervasive, across all levels of sport.

The exact damage to the brain tissue is generally not identifiable except through the observation of symptoms.

Experts agree that there are at least 22 possible and different symptoms of concussion, of which only one needs to be present to diagnose.

Current diagnosis is unreliable and requires a more data centric approach to track and report impact events.

This data will provide the statistical proof of the link between impact event and concussion.

SportFitz reduces the incidence and impact of both major and minor concussive events in sports through access to real-time data optimizing, training and improving player safety. 

By identifying critical events in real time, players can be evaluated immediately before subsequent events can cause more serious damage minimizing short term risks.

The Fitz™ system takes the notification of injury out of their hands and places the information directly in the hands of the sports medical personnel, parents and guardians.

In this way, additional tragic injuries and deaths can be avoided and a “play safe” mentality can be fostered.

Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy or CTE is caused by the accumulation of many smaller events and represents a long term risk for athletes.

The Fitz™ immediately starts tracking all events developing a history for the athlete to aid future medical and career decisions.

This data should also allow advanced analytics to predict issues and keeps athletes safer in the future.

The Fitz™ measures linear and rotational acceleration, vital signs and ambient conditions, connecting to the cloud to provide data directly to medical personnel.   Fitz™ integrates haptic feedback directly to player, monitors all types of brain injury events, reports data on these recorded events, streams data in real-time, delivers immediate and personalized results for improved player safety, embeds custom risk assessment protocols for improved safety and integrates predictive analytics for concussion reduction behaviours.

SportFitz is lead by a powerhouse team of the world’s best wearable engineers, medtech, engagement executives and 6 Time Professional Boxing Champion, Fitz “The Whip” Vanderpool.


SportFitz was founded in 2016, to offer solutions to reduce the incidence, risk and cost of head impact injuries in response to Rowan’s Law passed at Queen’s Park, June 7, 2016.

SportFitz delivers the Fitz™ concussive monitor and the development of injury avoidance training for youth and adult, amateur and professional sport market.

SportFitz provides knowledge of incidents that create brain injuries through repeated minor concussive events which do not typically show immediate symptoms.

Rowan’s Law passed at Queen’s Park, June 7, 2016 press comments

“The Ontario legislature on Tuesday passed Rowan’s Law, the first in Canada aimed at not only preventing and diagnosing head injuries in youth sport, but managing return to play. The law calls for:

  • An advisory committee to be formed, to review 49 recommendations made by a coroner’s jury that investigated the March 2013 death of Rowan Stringer; the 17-year-old Ottawa girl died after suffering two concussions in one week while playing high school rugby.
  • The committee to have at least 12 members, with at least three appointed by each of four cabinet ministers: for children and youth services; for education; for health and long-term care; and for tourism, culture and sport.
  • The committee to recommend within a year which of the Stringer inquest jury’s 49 recommendations to implement, regarding head injury prevention or treatment; the committee may also make its own recommendations.”

— John Kryk, Postmedia News




For more information contact:

Diane Matyas