NFL Homecoming begins as Bears retire Mike Ditka's number

Tuesday's health and safety news from the world of football:

The Associated Press published a study regarding illegal hits in the league this season. The study said that through 11 weeks, there have been 549 penalties -- 491 of which fell under the category of major infractions.

Over the first 162 games of the season, the AP charted 156 penalties involving contact with the head and neck for an average of .962 per game. Thirty-eight of those penalties were for facemasks, 25 were for horse collars and 93 were for hits to the head. Quarterbacks (40) and receivers (38) took most of those blows to the head, and players at other positions accounted for taking the other 15 hits.

  • Science Daily reported on an animal study that said repeated head injuries could cause brain cells to go on high alert, causing signs of depression later in life.

-- Bill Bradley, contributing editor

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