Jerry Jones, the owner of the Dallas Cowboys, was hit in the head with a Cowboys helmet as he was leaving the field after his team's pre-game practice at Levi's Stadium, home of the San Francisco 49ers in Santa Clara, California, on Oct. 2 (video below).
Jones asked fans to throw down objects that they wanted autographed, which included the helmet.
"Well, let me tell you, it was a very positive scene down there," Jones told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "They just put that helmet out, and it shows that I’m just a glutton, that if you smile at me and knock the hell out of me, I’m all right."
Jones reportedly signed the gear, gave it back to the fan and joked that he would not have to take part in the team's concussion protocol.
That's somewhat of a dark joke given that Jones erroneously denied that there was enough evidence to link football concussions to degenerative brain disease, also known as Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). In March, he spoke to the Washington Post:
No, that’s absurd. There’s no data that in any way creates a knowledge. There’s no way that you could have made a comment that there is an association and some type of assertion. In most things, you have to back it up by studies. And in this particular case, we all know how medicine is. Medicine is evolving. I grew up being told that aspirin was not good. I’m told that one a day is good for you…. I’m saying that changed over the years as we’ve had more research and knowledge.
Politifact rated Jones' statement a "pants on fire" lie, and noted that the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy at the Boston University School of Medicine affirmed the link between football and CTE on its website:
CTE has been known to affect boxers since the 1920s. However, recent reports have been published of neuropathologically confirmed CTE in retired professional football players and other athletes who have a history of repetitive brain trauma. This trauma triggers progressive degeneration of the brain tissue, including the build-up of an abnormal protein called tau. These changes in the brain can begin months, years, or even decades after the last brain trauma or end of active athletic involvement. The brain degeneration is associated with memory loss, confusion, impaired judgment, impulse control problems, aggression, depression, and, eventually, progressive dementia.