NFL to hire full-time chief medical officer as player safety emphasis continues

The NFL intends to hire a chief medical officer to work full time in the league office, Commissioner Roger Goodell informed teams Wednesday.

“In recognition of this priority [on player health and safety] and the increasing complexity of our work, we intend to hire a highly-credentialed physician to serve as Chief Medical Officer and work in the league office on a full-time basis,” Goodell wrote in a memo to team presidents and chief executives, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Post.

“This individual will be responsible for working with our team medical staffs, the NFLPA and our medical committees, as well as the broader independent scientific and medical communities. This individual will add to our expertise and help ensure that our clubs have access to the most up-to-date information, that our research funds are spent in an effective and targeted way, and that our players and team staffs receive timely and thorough information on injuries and injury prevention.”

The league hired Betsy Nabel in February 2015 as its chief health and medical adviser. She remains the president of Brigham and Women’s Health Care. Nabel will participate in the search for a full-time chief medical officer, according to Goodell’s memo. That search is to begin this week, Goodell wrote.

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Goodell’s memo also informed teams that Elliot Pellman will retire after nearly 30 years of working with the New York Jets and the NFL. The role of Pellman, a rheumatologist with no prior expertise in brain injury research, in formulating the sport’s concussion-related policies was questioned in litigation and in media reports in recent years.