7 Focused on What Matters Ted Johnson, a former middle linebacker for the New England Patriots and three-time Super Bowl champion, experienced nearly 100 concussions before retiring from his NFL career in 2005. In 2006, he was diagnosed with post-concussion syndrome and discovered he was at risk for chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a neurodegenerative disease linked to repeated brain injury. The disease can cause memory loss, confusion, impaired judgment, paranoia, impulse control problems, aggression, depression, and dementia. Until we understand concussions and change the way contact sports are played, many athletes will continue to experience excessive head trauma, as Ted did, and suffer disabilities. The Sports Legacy Institute is addressing this crisis by promoting research, treatment, education, and prevention. To advance research, the nonprofit’s co-founder, Chris Nowinski, a former Harvard University football player and professional wrestler, and the author of Head Games, partnered with Boston University to establish the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy. When the center set up a brain donation registry, Ted was the first to sign up. The registry now includes over 400 current and former athletes and military personnel who plan to donate their brains for research when they die. Currently, researchers at the center are studying 150 brains donated after death from families of deceased athletes and military veterans. Mintz Levin’s partnership with the Sports Legacy Institute goes back to 2007, when the firm’s attorneys helped the organization incorporate and register as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. “Years before the public began to appreciate the connection between sports-related brain injuries and long-term cognitive problems, we made a commitment to support the institute’s efforts to address this important issue,” says Brian Dunphy, the nonprofit’s point person at the firm. That commitment has grown with expanding needs. In the past year, 18 attorneys, most significantly Anthony Hubbard, Kate Stewart, Joe DiCioccio, Cynthia Larose, Quincy Ewell, and Steve Weiner, have contributed legal services. Joe and former Mintz Levin attorney Geri Haight recently helped prepare and file applications for five trademarks related to the organization’s innovative Hit Count initiative, an effort devoted to promoting and developing guidelines that will limit the number of head blows young athletes can receive. The trademarks will enable the institute to roll out or license Hit Count guidelines, programs, and equipment.With Kate’s assistance, the firm is also drafting an affiliation agreement with a Canadian entity that will help the organization extend its reach and life-saving efforts beyond US borders.Thanks in large part to the institute’s leadership, public awareness is growing, and the movement to help athletes play safer and better is gaining momentum worldwide. From the beginning, Mintz Levin’s attorneys have worked with us to help translate our vision into reality. Their work on behalf of our Hit Count initiative is a prime example: with the firm’s help and guidance, we’re poised to drive changes that will protect young athletes. Chris Nowinski Co-founder and Executive Director Sports Legacy Institute Brain Trust Preventing Head Injuries Among Athletes