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Domonique Foxworth,in the suit and tie left, then a member of the NFL Players Association during contract negotiations with the league in 2011, is now president of the NFLPA and involved in the 10-year medical project with Harvard to improve the health of former players. / Louis Lanzano, AP

BOSTON -- The National Football League players union and Harvard University are teaming up for a 10-year, $100 million research project aimed at treating and preventing health problems plaguing former NFL players.

Researchers across disciplines will look at everything from brain trauma, torn ligaments and arthritic joints to the long-term effects of acute pain and chronic use of painkillers in an unprecedented study of 1,000 ex-NFL players.

The immediate goal is to transform the health of active and retired players within five years.

Harvard researchers wrote in a summary of their project that former NFL players die on average about 20 years earlier than American men as a whole.

Dr. Lee Nadler, director of the project, tells The Boston Globe that Harvard will recruit a geographically, racially, and ethnically diverse pool of 1,000 retired players for the project, with experts from the university's 10 schools and 16 medical centers involved in cooperation with about 20 research centers across the USA that specialize in minority health issues.

"We are not trying to change the game. We are trying to change the impact of the game," Nadler said.

Players' association President Domonique Foxworth, 29, says he hopes the project will spare former players the chronic pain he experiences after a torn knee ligament forced the cornerback to retire last year from the Baltimore Ravens.

"There is a constant discomfort in my knee and hip," he told The Globe. "You get used to it. I hope this project gets us to a place where players some day don't have to get used to it."

In the 10-year collective bargaining agreement the NFLPA signed with the league in 2011, some $11 million annually was targeted for medical research.



Copyright 2014 USATODAY.com

Read the original story: NFL players, Harvard team for $100 million health study

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